Sunday, 15 May 2011

Learning to drive lorries - getting started

This post tells you how to go about learning to drive an LGV. First of all you need to decide which size of vehicle you want to drive. If you passed your test before 1997, you can drive up to 7.5 tonnes on your normal car licence.

If you passed your test more recently than that and you want to drive this size of vehicle you have to do the C1 test. If you are paying for the test yourself and think you may want to drive larger lorries in the future, you may as well just go straight for the Category C licence as the difference in price is small and the test is the same, just in a bigger vehicle.

As the LGV licence is vocational and as a lorry driver you will be spending hours and hours on the road, it is important that your health is up to it. Before you can be given the licence, you have to pass a medical. This is not a very stringent test and anybody in general good health will normally pass it. Anybody with any of these conditions, must inform the DVLA. Once you have your licence, you have to retake the medical at age 45.

Age restrictions:
Basically, the rule for any large vehicle is that you have to be 21 unless you take the CPC. For more detailed information click here.

Useful books:

Useful links:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Glossary of LGV terms

LGV - Large or Laden goods vehicle. This is the term referring to any vehicle used to transport goods from vans up to articulated lorries.

HGV - heavy goods vehicle. This refers to larger goods vehicles, generally those above 7.5 tonnes for which you need a category C licence, previously called an HGV licence.

MGW - maximum gross weight. It refers to the combined weight of your unladen vehicle, the load on it and any people in it. This is usually on weak bridges to show the heaviest weight the bridge can take.

MAM - maximum authorised mass. This refers to the total combined weight of the vehicle and the maximum load it can carry including people. This is defined by the manufacturer.

Payload. This refers to the total capacity in weight of the load and the people.

HGV class 2 and class 1. These are the old names for Category C and Category C+E respectively.

What can I drive on my licence?

The laws governing what you could drive on a standard driving licence changed on 1 January 1997.

If you want a detailed list of what you can drive on your licence, here is the DSA site for those who passed before 1997.
Here is the DSA site for those who passed in 1997 or after.
The categories which were affected by this change are B+E, C1 and D1 (see below for descriptions). Those who passed their tests before 1997 are referred to as having Grandad rights.

This is the story in brief.
Category A governs motorbikes.

Category B governs cars. This is the category which you automatically have on your licence when you pass the standard driving test at the age of 17 or older and if you passed your test after 1 January 1997 this is the only category you have. This covers any vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes MAM. This is basically up to a small van but it is worth bearing in mind that many standard Transit size vans that you may hire in order to move house, are actually over 3.5 tonnes MAM so you need to be careful. This category also allows you to tow a trailer up to 750kg as long as the total vehicle weight does not exceed 3.5 tonnes. Very few caravans, trailer tents, motorbike or boat trailers come under this weight limit.

Category B+E governs car and trailer. Any category with +E after it denotes a trailer. If you passed your test after January 1997 and want to tow a trailer or a caravan over 750kg you will have to take this extra test. Some normal car driving instructors offer it, but it is generally taught by LGV instructors. The training generally lasts for 20 hours including the time of the test, which follows the format of an LGV test is taken at an LGV test centre, not at a normal car one.

The category C group covers Laden Goods Vehicles - LGV.
Category C1. This covers vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. If you passed your test before 1997 you automatically have this entitlement on your licence, although you no longer have the entitlement to supervise a novice driver in this category unless you have actually passed a test in this or a subsequent category before April 2010. If you passed your test after 1 January 1997 you have to take a test in this category to be able to drive it. Large vans, ambulances and smaller horse boxes come into this category.

Category C. This used to be called HGV class 2. It covers large rigid vehicles of any size beyond 3.5 tonnes. Some leisure vehicles come within this size category but because they are not laden vehicles, are not covered by the same rules, if you passed your test before 1997. See here for more information.

Category C+E. As I mentioned above +E refers to any trailer so this category covers large vehicles with trailers - basically articulated lorries. To take this test you have to first have passed category C.

The category D group covers Passenger Carrying Vehicles - PCV.
Category D1. This covers minibuses up to 17 seats. Here is the DSA's information site about it. If you passed your test after 1 January 1997 you can only drive a vehicle up to 8 seats including the passenger.

Category D. This covers all rigid buses.

Here are some other useful links:
Licence checking for business
One of many useful motorhome sites