If you’re the observant type, you may have noticed a bit of a farrago recently over a lack of HGV drivers. Needed for everything from deliveries to rubbish collection, the driver shortage has been blamed for all sorts of delays and shortages, chiefly the lack of petrol at some stations. 

Becoming an HGV driver isn’t for everyone, but it can be a rewarding career track for those who enjoy their own company. Here’s an outline of how to get into this in-demand profession, and where SAMS’ Periodic Driver CPC training comes into play. 

1. Ensure you have the right kind of license

Depending on the kind of large vehicle you intend to drive, you will need to hold a certain driver’s license. For example, if you are looking to drive category C vehicles (the most common HGVs), you will need to apply for provisional entitlement to drive category C vehicles on your regular driver’s license, and then pass a Category C test.

To apply for your provisional licence upgrade, you’ll need to complete DVLA form D2, and have your doctor complete form D4 after a routine medical exam (to check that it is safe for you to drive large vehicles). Unsurprisingly, HGV drivers must also have held their driver’s licence for a minimum of 12 months.

2. Gain your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) 

To drive an HGV, you’ll usually need to obtain a specific qualification called a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC). New applicants will have to complete all four of the exams below to qualify, and then complete 35 hours of periodic CPC training every 5 years.

If you gained your HGV or bus licence prior to 2009, you may have acquired rights, which means you can either choose to take the Case Studies and Practical exams or 35 hours of periodic CPC training. If you gained your licence after 2009 but it has expired, you must undertake the 35 hours of training.

Obtaining your Driver CPC involves four exams:

  • Theory

This test will be familiar to you from your regular driver’s license exams, and will consist of a multiple choice and hazard perception element relating to large vehicles. The pass mark is 67/100.

  • Case studies

The case studies exam will present you with real-world scenarios and ask you to present the correct responses. This is a multiple choice exam with seven different examples, and a pass mark of 40/50.

  • Driving ability 

This section can only be completed after you’ve passed your theory exam. Combining practical questions with on and off-road driving exercises, you will have to make 15 or fewer faults and no serious or dangerous faults in a 90 minute period. 

  • Practical demonstration 

This section can only be completed after you’ve passed the case studies exam. Focusing on the unique practical considerations of being an HGV driver, you’ll be tested on things like loading and unloading, a vehicle safety check, avoiding stowaways and emergency situations. The pass mark is 80/100, with a minimum score of 15/20 on each of five topics. 

Staying qualified as an HGV driver 

While SAMS can’t train you to become an HGV driver, we do play a crucial role in helping former HGV and other large vehicle drivers to regain their HGV licences, and for current drivers to renew their Driver CPC and stay safe on the road.

All HGV drivers must complete mandatory Driver CPC training every five years to keep their skills sharp, and learn about any new developments. We provide this training in the form of nine different courses, each lasting around 3.5 hours, with the exception of Emergency First Aid, which is a 7 hour course. 

This training can be done at any time between gaining and renewing your CPC qualification. Once you’ve completed the 35 hours of training, the DVSA will add five more years onto your current licence. As such, many people save their training until the final year of their CPC eligibility. 

Of course, we also offer a range of courses that could be of general interest to HGV drivers, including general safety qualifications such as the NEBOSH General Certificate, IOSH Working Safely and CITB Health & Safety Awareness. To find out more and book a course, browse our Training section or get in touch with us today.