Different levels of HGV driver explained
Drivers of Heavy Good Vehicles are in high demand and have good earning potential.
The different classes of HGV drivers may seem confusing, so here we explain about what category of vehicles drivers are permitted to drive, some of the other HGV categories and the differences between HGV Class 1 and 2.
What are the different classes of HGV drivers?
HGV Class 1
A Class 1 HGV driver is able to drive class C+E vehicles – an articulated lorry weighing 7.5 tonnes or more with detachable cabs and trailers which can generally carry loads of up to 44 tonnes. Class 1 drivers are able to do long-haul trips and are generally better paid than Class 2 drivers.
HGV Class 2
Class 2 HGV drivers can drive anything up to a class C vehicle – ‘rigid’ lorries of 7.5 tonnes with a cab and trailer that do not detach. ‘Rigids’ have a load range from 25-30 tonnes. Class 2 licence holders will generally be employed on short-haul trips or for runs between and around towns and cities.
What is the difference between a Class 1 and 2 driver?
As mentioned above, HGV Class 1 drivers can drive articulated lorries on long haul routes, whereas HGV Class 2 drivers are only allowed to drive ‘rigid’ lorries on short haul runs.
Other HGV categories
A driver with a C1 category is permitted to drive vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes. Typical C1 vehicles include ambulances, horseboxes and removal vans. C1 is included on standard driving licenses if the driver passed their test before January 1997, but a driving test is needed if you are driving a C1 vehicle professionally.
Category D and D1
A D vehicle is any bus with more than 8 passenger seats, with a trailer weighing up to 750kg; a D1 vehicle is a minibus with 9-16 passenger seats, with or without a trailer of up to 750kg.
People over the age of 18 that have passed a Passenger Carrying Vehicle test are eligible to drive a category D vehicle. Holders of standard licenses that passed their driving test before January 1997 can drive a D1 vehicle.
Category B + E
A category B + E is a car and trailer. All holders of standard licenses are able to drive this category as long as the combined weight of car and trailer is no more than 7 tonnes.
Lorry loader or HIAB
An RTITB Vehicle Mounted Hydraulic Lorry loader qualification provides a driver with the skills to operate a crane attached to a vehicle safely and efficiently. It is also known as the HIAB course.
Holding the ADR category means that an HGV driver can transport dangerous goods by road over international borders. There are nine ADR classes to pass, including specific courses on explosives, gases and flammable liquids.
How old do you have to be for an HGV licence?
The minimum age to drive a heavy goods vehicle in the UK is 18 years old. Drivers should hold a full car licence. People aged 18-21 will need to hold an initial Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification. Drivers over 21 years old will only need to hold the Driver CPC if they are going to be driving professionally.
How much does it cost to get an HGV licence?
Although costs will vary around the country, a CPC HGV driver course costs around £1000 and includes classroom training, practical training, student support and job assistance. Tests are charged separately, and should be in the region of £250-300 for the following elements:
- Theory test parts 1 and 2
- CPC certification
- Driving ability test
- Practical test.
Find out more about a career as an HGV driver
Find out about apprenticeships, job vacancies, related roles, earning potential and lots of other information about HGV driving.