Becoming a lorry driver is not easy. It takes courage and the will to manoeuvre large vehicles, let alone carry the load of imported and exported goods for a certain company. Acquiring a license specifically for this demanding job will practically challenge your patience but the most important point is knowing how long it will take you to become qualified. This article will explain the processes, as well as the time frame, you have to take to become a professional lorry driver.

Getting a license

It usually takes an average of 6-8 weeks to get a license to drive a HGV truck. Just like every official ID processing, the first stage is going through a medical exam. This part is very important, considering that you need to be in perfect shape before you can undergo any practical training.

If you are wondering if fast-tracking the process is possible, the answer is no. Everyone who wants to apply must start from scratch and finishing the application is not possible if requirements are incomplete.

To be qualified, you are required to have a full car licence, be 18 years or above and get the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). In order for you to get the CPC, you need to apply for a provisional lorry licence, pass 4 tests that will qualify you for the CPC and take 35 hours of recurring training every five years in order to stay qualified. If you reach the age of 65, you will be required to renew your lorry licence every year.

To begin the acquisition of a provisional lorry licence, you need to determine what type of vehicle you prefer to drive. As soon as you find out what your preferred driving licence category, you can order the D2 and D4 forms from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency or DVLA. 

You need a doctor to fill out the D4 form. It could either be a GP (an optician might be needed to fill out the section regarding your eyesight) or a private institution that specialises in medical exams for drivers. The GP, optician or private institution can charge you for the services they will render. 

After completing the forms, you can submit it to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency along with the photocard driving licence. It will take about 3 weeks to get your licence from the time the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency gets your application. It may take longer if they need to further check your personal or health details. 

After getting your provisional lorry licence, you can book the theory test of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. The test includes a multiple-choice and hazard perception exam. It does not matter which test you take first as long as you complete both exams within 2 years of each other. The multiple-choice exam has 100 questions that need to be finished within 1 hour and 55 minutes. You need to get a mark of at least 85 to pass. The hazard perception test will require you to watch 19 videos, with 20 developing hazards that you need to spot. The passing mark is 67 out of a hundred.

If you are ready to take the test, make sure to bring your photocard driving licence (and its paper counterpart if you have one).  If you don’t have a photocard driving licence, you may bring your valid passport and paper licence.

After finishing part 1 of your theory exam, you may choose to take the part 2 case studies exam. You are not required to pass the part 1 theory exam to take this. The test is composed of 7 specific case studies that you need to go through on a computer. The case studies will feature different situations that you may encounter in your life while driving a lorry. Every case study will require you to answer 6 to 9 multiple-choice questions. You only have 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish the test and will be required to get a mark of 40 out of 50 to pass.

The 3rd CPC test will test your driving ability. You need to pass the part 1 theory exam to take this test. You will be given a practical test composed of off-road exercises, practical road driving and vehicle safety questions. You will be given 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete it.

The 4th test will entail practical demonstration. In order to book this test, you need qualifying marks from part 2 case studies exam. You will be tested on how to securely load the lorry in accordance with safety rules, prevent the trafficking of illegal immigrants, evaluate any emergency situations that may arise within your work, reduce the physical risk to yourself and other people and properly check your vehicle. The test will cover 5 topics taken from the syllabus of the Driver CPC. Each topic will earn you 20 points. To pass this exam, you need to get a mark of at least 15 in each topic or get an overall score of 80 out of a hundred.  

Practical driver training

Once you have passed all the required theory tests, the next thing that you need to accomplish is facing practical training and testing. The timeline for this part of the application usually depends on your age and experience. On this part, you will heavily rely on your street knowledge, common sense and determination. This training course is usually delivered over a 5 day period but some companies base the number of days on your needs and requirements.

This phase will not only test your driving capabilities but also give you an opportunity to test the truck that you will use once you pass. You have to make sure that all the knowledge that you have acquired will manifest on your driving performance. Your basic knowledge in driving will also come in handy like checking your brakes, blindspot, and moving away from a stationary position. You only have about 1.5 hours to impress the company. Only 15 minor faults are allowed to be committed otherwise, you will fail completely.

If you are interested in taking up HGV driver training or you want to make sure that you are well-trained and well-equipped to stay on the road, make sure to talk with the experts at Truck School Swindon on 01793 954963 or today!