UK or the United Kingdom is an economically advanced country with the best logistical and infrastructure in the Western world. It has a few of the best roadway systems in the world that extend for about 29,145 miles consisting of main roads, 213,750 miles of paved roads and about 2,173 miles of freely-drive able motorways. Apart from roadways, the country also has a substantial network of freight trains and even ports that carry over 558 tons of goods all over the country.
Roadways in Great Britain Roadways in the UK are exceptionally good and make up about 0.16% of the total land area. Most of the roads are paved and connected very well to all parts of the UK. Roads are the most popular method of freight followed by rail and shipping. More than 65% of the domestic freight is done by truckers and long carriers on roads. The roads are maintained by local authorities in Great Britain, Scotland and Wales, and they are usually in very good condition. Truckers can reach average speeds of about 60 kmph which is well above average. Toll roads are rare but traffic congestion forms the main problem for road transport. Even though the roadway system is very well maintained, it is considered to be far lesser than countries like Sweden and Austria. As a result, a £11.2 billion road improvement program has been put in to force by the government to deal with congestion on motorways and highways.
Licensing: Becoming a Trucker in Great Britain At present, there is serious shortage of trained lorry drivers and truckers in the UK. According to the latest statistics, there are over 800,000 truckers in the UK actively plying large trucks and carriers inside the state and to neighboring countries but this amount is falling serious short for local freighting. The government is encouraging interested candidates to enroll for the license but a serious shortage of lorry driving trainers and new licensing regulations have resulted in falling interest. Current licensing regulations were that candidates who are interested in becoming truck drivers had to complete their GED and then apply for a Large Goods Vehicle or a Commercial Driver license to drive trucks that are over 26,000 lbs in weight.
There were several categories for the LGV license and they include C1 for lorry that was inbetween 3500kg to about 7500kg in weight to the C+E designated license where drivers were allowed to drive a large vehicle with 750kg or more trailer. Recently, rules for large vehicle driving have been changed. As a result, new truckers have to pass a driving test in the categories C, CE, C1, C1E, D, DE, D1 or D1E that are specifically geared for lorry and bus drivers. The licenses that are issued currently are only valid for five years. Drivers over 45 years of age will have to clear a medical examination. This medical examination report will be linked with your CDL and it now mandatory after the age of 45. Drivers also have to have a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence or a Driver CPC. This is one of the toughest regulations that have been imposed on UK truckers recently but it is necessary for freight drivers who have to cross over in the European Union.
According to the new regulations, new truckers will have to 35 hours of compulsory training for passing the Driver CPC. After training, the trucker will have sit for a four part exam which includes a multiple choice theory exam, case studies, practical driving exams and vehicle safety exams. The trucker will also have to complete periodic retesting every 5 years to ensure that they are up to date with road and vehicle safety measures. It’s not all bad news though. These rules have been relaxed for professional drivers and truckers with existing C, C1, C+E and C1+E licenses from 2009 or before do not have to sit for the exam by ‘acquired rights.’
Getting a Trucker Job in the UK: Rules and Regulations It is possible to work independently as an owner/driver or work with an agency on their transport jobs. Along with the license and Driver CPC, most employers will also check the driving record of the trucker. A clean driving record and no criminal violations are necessary to get a trucking job with a firm. The UK follows European Union rules and regulations for trucker’s times, routes and distances that can be covered in a day. Trucks and freight carriers are not allowed to carry more than 3.5 tons in weight and drivers have to take a break of 45 minutes after driving for 4.5 hours. Breaks of less than 45 minutes are not considered. Truckers are allowed weekly driving limits of 56 hours and maximum driving time over two weeks is restricted to 90 hours. Truckers cannot work for more than 10 hours per day. Truckers are expected to keep a record of their hours of work and an EU-approved Tachograph is used to record driver activity. Failure to comply with any of these rules may result in a file of about 2,500 pounds or more. Please check with the Department of Transport for more information.
Current Situation Truckers do have to deal with long lonely journeys but the better roads and GPS tracking and wireless connections ensure that most companies have been able to follow the transportation lorry on its journey. On an average, UK drivers have to remain on the road for a shorter period of time and are paid better than drivers in the US or in Europe. Crime is not common but it does happen on specific routes in the UK. Fuel robbery, driver attacks, petty thefts and hijacking of goods does occur. One recurring problem with truckers has been the hike in fuel prices. Fuel prices have increased by as much as 63% in the last decade. In the year 2000 and 2008, the trucking industry went on a blockade to protest the hike and only active negotiations were able to start up the truckers again. Truckers again threatened a strike in early 2012 but government intervention was able to stave off the problem.
On the whole, the UK is relatively a good place to find work as a trucker. There is a severe shortage of drivers at present and passing the exam, means that a trained candidate can be absorbed almost immediately. London is hosting the 2012 Olympics and as a result, there is going to be a higher demand for truckers to bring in supplies everyday into the city to deal with one million tourists that are expected for the event.