Industry Insights

Life as a UK HGV Driver

March 3, 2022
Class 1, Cat C+E Driver Andy next to his HGV giving Advice for new HGV Drivers in the UK

There has never been a better time to become a Category C+E (old Class 1) HGV Driver. There are jobs available all over the UK, wages are rising and conditions for drivers are improving, thanks to pressure from campaigns like #betterbreakssaferstops and #truckedoff.

There are still many challenges for the UK haulage industry, but breakthroughs are coming thick and fast and it will be a long and rewarding career for those with the drive to succeed.

What You Need to Know Before Becoming a UK HGV Driver

Whether you’re returning to the HGV industry, or newly qualified you will already know that HGV driving is certainly not a career for the fainthearted. You will have completed your medical test, your theory test, your practical training and, of course, your Driver CPC training before your first shift behind the wheel. But if you’re patient and determined, enjoy driving and working independently you will have a career for life and the opportunity to earn some of the most money you can make (legally!) without a university degree.

Macintyre Transport are always on the lookout for new and experienced Cat C+E (old Class 1) Drivers. Cat C+E Drivers are qualified to operate vehicles in excess of 7500kg with trailers over 750kg.

Cat C Drivers are qualified to operate vehicles in excess of 7500kg with trailers up to 750kg.

Cat C1 Drivers are qualified to operate vehicles between 3500kg and 7500kg with trailers up to 750kg. Cat C1+E Drivers are qualified to operate vehicles between 3500kg and 7500kg with trailers over 750kg.

Average Working Hours for HGV Drivers in a Day

Put simply, drivers must not drive over 9 hours in one day. However, this can be extended to 10 hours a maximum of twice per week. You can only drive a maximum of 56 hours in 1 week but no more than 90 hours across 2 weeks. Every driver has their own way of working out breaks and non-driving time, but you will be given our instructions as part of your driver handbook and your experienced driver mentor will be able to offer their advice. Above all else – listen to what the tachograph says and trust your instincts.

Becoming a Macintyre Class 1 (Category C+E) Driver

Our drivers have permanent contracts. This means guaranteed hours every week. Wages for drivers vary wildly, as you will have read in the recent news – but sadly, these hourly rates often come with small print and we’ve heard horror stories about drivers having hours reduced and terms of employment changing just after a few weeks in the new job.

We believe Macintyre are the best company on the road to drive for, but don’t take our word for it. Follow us on social media where you will hear from our current drivers about their experiences. We recently spoke to Andrew Williams, a true King of the road and one of Macintyre’s longest-serving drivers, about what it’s like to be an HGV driver in 2022.

Andy comes from a transport family, so he was driving his Dad’s trucks in the yard back when he was 11! He passed his test in a brand-new Volvo F10 to give you an idea of how long he’s been in the game – but we will let him tell you exactly how long it’s been!

Andy’s been driving for Macintyre Transport for 12 years. He is a tramper based out of Felixstowe and one of our splitter trailer specialists. We interviewed him about what an average day looks like for him, so stick the kettle on and settle in…those of you who know Andy will know he’s got the gift of the gab!

A Day in the Life of a UK HGV Driver & What HGV Drivers do on a Typical Day

“So, let’s take last Monday as an example. I started at 5 am – I work Saturdays too, so I always aim to get the splitter loaded up on Saturday ready. I completed my checks and shot straight over to Daventry. I chatted with the office staff – my advice is always speak to them well, and they’ll treat you well. We’re paid hourly, so park up, and if you have to wait, wait. It’s a pain but you’re getting paid! I’ve got a tablet, I get through a lot of tv shows!

I filled up again at Northampton and headed down to Gateway. My days average around 13-14 hours. We’ve all got a fridge and microwaves in our cabs so I tend to have porridge for breakfast and keep a chicken wrap or similar in the fridge for lunch, I love a pub dinner, I can tell you the best places to go all over the UK.”

Andy’s Advice for new (and not so new) HGV Drivers in the UK

“Make sure you have what you need in your cab, a good kit bag should include a decent satnav (I rate Garmin), a decent torch, kettle, fridge food, clothes, towel, washbag, coat and boots.

The best advice I can give new HGV drivers is talk to us other drivers, there’s always someone willing to help you out. That’s how we all used to do it back in the day – pre sat-nav – stopping off to ask a local or good old CB radios. My call sign was ‘Michelin Man’ or ‘Duracell’ and my Dad’s before me was the ‘Flying kilt’ as he was Scottish! I used to chat for hours on those old radios, although you did use to get some right weirdoes hogging the channel – same as internet trolls today, really! Also back off from other vehicles, and always watch your gaps.

You often hear people talking about driving as being a lonely job, and anyone who says they’re not in it for the money is lying, but after 34 years of doing it, I still enjoy it – you just have to make the job work for you.

My Dad always told me ‘don’t sit in your cab, get outside, go for a walk and talk to people’, and that’s something I’ve done since day one. I’m sociable. I know people all over the country. I’ve played for local pool teams and part of the Christmas club, people, you don’t have to live local to be part of the community. We have WhatsApp groups and maybe a few of us in the area will meet up in the evening and have a chat about our day.

I have a loving, supportive wife – we’ve been together 35 years – and a really great family. I play golf with my son in law – I don’t play regularly but I’ve been doing it for 6 years now and it’s great exercise after being sat working all week. I even came 4th in a competition recently! Make sure you get some hobbies outside of the job, it’ll keep you healthier and happier.”

The Macinytre Transport HGV Driving Team

When you start driving for us, you will be paired with an experienced driver as a mentor while you settle into your role. Every driving job has its swings and roundabouts, but the camaraderie, respect and laughs you get with our driving team is unique to us. Our drivers are an essential part of our team and deserve to be rewarded as such. From drivers, office staff and subbies to our CEO, Macintyre Transport is built around family values. We are passionate about haulage, and our people are at the heart of our success.