HGV Driver Regulations

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#Driver Safety, #Fleet Management
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HGV on the road

HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) drivers play a crucial role in the transportation of goods across the UK. Navigating the roads in such a large vehicle and driving for long periods at a time can be dangerous, so stringent regulatory requirements are necessary. These regulations include licensing requirements, working hours, rest periods and vehicle maintenance. 

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the regulatory requirements for HGV drivers. By following these standards, you can mitigate risks on the road, keeping yourself and other road users safe.

Overview of HGV licences

Any vehicle with a maximum permissible weight of more than 3.5 tonnes is considered an HGV. To drive one of these vehicles, you must obtain an HGV licence. There are different categories of HGV licences for you to choose from and you’ll need to undergo regular training to keep your licence.

Categories of HGV licences

HGV licences are categorised into different classes based on the weight and type of vehicle that a driver is authorised to operate. To drive vehicles in the various categories, you will need to undertake additional training and tests as they each have specific criteria that you must meet before you can qualify.

The main categories are:

  • Category C1: this licence allows you to operate vehicles weighing between 3,500kg and 7,500kg.

  • Category C1+E: with this licence, drivers can operate vehicles in the C1 category and have a trailer weighing more than 750kg attached.

  • Category C: this licence permits drivers to operate rigid vehicles weighing over 3,500kg, commonly known as "Class 2" licences.

  • Category C+E: also known as "Class 1" licences, this category allows drivers to operate articulated or drawbar vehicles, typically with a trailer weighing over 750kg.

Obtaining an HGV licence

To become an HGV driver, you need to:

  • Be over 18 years old

  • Have a full car driving licence

If you meet these requirements, then you can start the process of obtaining your HGV licence. The key steps you’ll need to take are:

  1. Get a medical certificate: you will need to undergo a medical examination by a registered doctor to ensure you meet the medical standards required for an HGV driver.

  2. Apply for a provisional HGV licence: you can apply for a provisional HGV licence through the DVLA website.

  3. Pass a theory test: this test is similar to the one you must complete for your car driving licence and includes a multiple-choice test and a hazard perception test. This is designed to test your knowledge of road safety, traffic regulations and hazard awareness.

  4. Undertake HGV training: enrol in an accredited HGV training course with a reputable training provider. The course will include practical training and guidance on driving skills specific to HGVs.

  5. Obtain a Driver CPC: to get an HGV license in the UK, you must first pass the Professional Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). This was introduced to improve road safety and maintain high driving standards.

  6. Pass the practical driving test: once you've completed your training, you'll need to pass the practical driving test, which includes vehicle safety checks, on-road driving, and manoeuvring exercises.

Renewal and maintenance of licence

Your HGV licence must be renewed every 5 years and you must complete 35 hours of training within each 5-year period. When you reach the age of 65, you will need to renew your HGV licence every year. All medical conditions must be declared when you renew your licence.

If you fail to follow the regulations and requirements for HGV drivers, your licence may be invalidated. 

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)

You must have the full Driver CPC if you drive an HGV as the main part of your job. There are 5 parts to the test, including a practical driving test. However, you might not need to complete them all, for example if you previously qualified as an HGV driver and want to retrain. 

The Driver CPC qualification ensures that HGV drivers are all trained to the same government standards and are up to date with all health, safety, and legal requirements. The Driver CPC requirement is important as it helps to reduce road accidents by ensuring HGV drivers are safer on the roads.

Discover our guide to the Driver CPC requirements for more information.

Periodic training

To keep your Driver CPC, you need to complete 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years. This is essential, as you could be fined up to £1,000 if caught driving professionally without the Driver CPC.

The minimum length of a training course is 7 hours. You can take it over 2 consecutive days, and it can include up to 2 hours of online training before you start. It’s recommended that you complete at least one day of training every year to ensure it doesn't lapse. 

Visit the DVSA website to find out where you can attend CPC courses. 

HGV driver medical requirements

All HGV drivers are required to undergo a medical check. This involves a thorough assessment of your physical and mental health to determine if you’re fit to drive a commercial vehicle. You must meet these requirements before you can obtain a HGV licence.  

Medical fitness

The medical check that HGV drivers need to undertake usually involves:

  • Medical history: you will be asked about any existing medical conditions or previous surgeries which may impact your ability to drive a HGV.

  • Physical examination: as part of your medical check, you will need a physical examination from a medical professional. They will assess your physical and mental health and take measurements of your height, weight, and blood pressure. 

If you have a mental health condition or are taking medication that may impact your driving, you must report it to the DVLA. Failure to disclose a pre-existing medical condition could land you a £1,000 fine and your licence may be revoked.

Eyesight standards

Eyesight requirements are stricter for HGV drivers than those who drive a car. You must:

  • Be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 yards

  • Have a visual acuity of at least 6/7.5 (or 0.8) on the Snellen scale in your best eye

  • Have a visual acuity of at least 6/60 (or 0.1) on the Snellen scale in your worst eye.

You can take the test wearing glasses, but their corrective power cannot be more than 8 dioptres and you must have an uninterrupted visual field of at least 160 degrees.

HGV driving and working hours

HGV drivers often travel long distances at a time as they transport goods across the country. Deliveries are often time-sensitive, so downtime needs to be minimised. However, HGV drivers need to adhere to strict regulations which dictate how long they can drive at a time.

Driver hours’ rules

According to government regulations, a standard day of driving for an HGV driver is 9 hours long. To help you maintain concentration and tackle tiredness, you’re required to take a 45-minute break after 4.5 hours of driving. If necessary, this break can be split into two, but the first break must be 15 minutes or more and the second break must last over 30 minutes.

Twice a week, drivers can be on the road for up to 10 hours, but only if you ensure that you’re driving for a maximum of 4.5 hours at a time.

In addition to regulations around daily hours, HGV drivers also have to adhere to rules about how many hours you can work in a week. HGV drivers must not be on the road for more than 56 hours in any given week.

HGV driver rest periods

It’s important for HGV drivers to get enough rest between their journeys, so you can be alert and safe on the roads. In a 24-hour period, you must get 11 hours uninterrupted rest. You can split your resting hours into a 3-hour break and a 9-hour break but this must be taken within 24 hours. 

Record keeping

To ensure HGV drivers stick to these regulations, you must record and track all driving hours in a tachograph. These record your driving time, rest periods, and other relevant data. Each driver will have their own digi card to insert into the tachograph and this transmits data to registered authorised companies.

It’s important that you learn how to operate and use these devices properly to avoid costly fines and legal consequences. By accurately recording your driving hours, you can comply with regulations, prioritise road safety, and be prepared for vehicle inspections.

Vehicle and road safety

Navigating the roads in such a large vehicle is extremely challenging and can be dangerous. To stay safe on the roads and protect other road users, you should follow these top tips:

  1. Take regular breaks – this allows you to maintain concentration which can improve your reaction time.

  2. Secure your loads – to prevent accidents, loads should always be secured. You should also avoid overloading your HGV as this makes it less stable and can cause tyres to overheat and wear out.

  3. Check and maintain your HGV – ensure your vehicle is road-worthy by conducting daily walkaround checks. Regular servicing and maintenance will keep your vehicle in optimal condition, reducing the risk of breakdowns and accidents.

  4. Be prepared for emergencies – an emergency or breakdown could happen unexpectedly, so it’s important to always be prepared and carry essential items in your HGV. 

  5. Be aware of blind spots - HGVs have significant blind spots, so you should also be cautious of any smaller vehicles or other road users that may be in these areas.

Discover more safety tips for HGV drivers.

Adhering to regulatory requirements is essential for HGV drivers. It ensures safety, legality, and efficiency in your operations. Understanding and complying with these regulations not only helps in avoiding penalties but also contributes to the overall safety of the roads by reducing the risk of accidents.

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Karl Gurney
Head of Sales

Karl has over 14 years of experience in the fuel card industry and has a wealth of knowledge around the servicing and maintenance of fleet vehicles. Outside of work, Karl coaches a junior football team and enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 sons.