April 2023

Why be a lorry driver?

Inevitably some experienced LGV drivers would be able to answer that question with a number of reasons not to. This could no doubt be said of people in any occupation and is perhaps caused by those years of otherwise fulfilling work being tainted by a small number of negative experiences. Unfortunately this ignores the many good reasons for entering the profession in the first place…

For a start, it’s a career with a future. While many things that affect lorry drivers may change – such as environmental concerns, road networks, legislation and best practices – the need for the driver will continue to exist. Take a look around the room you sit in now. Is there anything you see that would not have been on a lorry at some point in its life? Whether products are being moved from depot to depot, to the shop where they are bought or even delivered directly to the customer, this will have involved an LGV and its driver somewhere along the line.

And it’s not just the clothes, furniture and food that we purchase. Medical supplies to hospitals, raw materials and parts to factories and waste being collected from the kerbside are just a few examples of the many journeys undertaken using trucks. And this is unlikely to change for a very long time as these transport demands have become embedded into our way of life.

Some years ago a study was conducted in Sweden forecasting the effects of all types of freight transport suddenly stopping. It was predicted that within days there would be significant effects – food and fuel shortages, passenger transport by road and air ceasing, sanitary issues from rubbish piling up in the streets – and while this may have been theoretical, the study was conducted using statistical evidence of all types of road transport (read the story here).

Of course, we have seen some of these effects in the UK in recent times, and the consequences of panic buying during the Covid pandemic and fuel supply issues caused by a shortage of LGV drivers highlighted to the general public just how essential freight transport is to day-to-day life.

This in itself has led to another good reason to be an LGV driver…the earning potential. A shortage of drivers across Europe, but especially in the UK, has led to increases in wages for many in the industry. Admittedly some of the promised pay scales that have been offered (particularly during seasonal peaks like Christmas) are unsustainably high, but in general the law of supply and demand has brought rates up to levels that now reflect not just the need for drivers but the professional nature of the job.

Professionalism is not only a further argument for being a lorry driver, but it could also be considered the key to the job itself. The licence categories required to drive different types of lorry (C1, C and CE) are considered to be ‘vocational’ licences, meaning that higher standards are expected of the licence holder, including conduct, medical fitness, legal compliance (such as drivers’ hours rules) and driving ability.

While some may argue these things place great onus and responsibility on LGV drivers, this is true of many occupations. However, taking this responsibility seriously, being professional and doing the job well all bring many benefits. Job satisfaction and secure employment are among them. As is the chance of career progression by adding additional qualifications such as an ADR certificate enabling the driver to carry dangerous goods or a lorry loader certificate to use a vehicle mounted crane, which themselves bring yet more earning potential and job opportunities.

Well trained, professional and legally compliant lorry drivers are absolutely essential to everybody’s way of life. So why not become one?

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