Marketing Assistant Jahdia Spencer gets a taste of life as a lorry driver and documents her experiences!
When it comes to imagining what a lorry driver does during a working day, it is assumed by the majority that they just sit behind a wheel and drive. But in reality, it takes much more than that to be a good lorry driver, especially on these traffic-infested London roads.
If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be a lorry driver, then this blog is for you. I had the privilege of shadowing and interviewing Josh Ede, a lorry driver who has been in the profession for two and a half years. Josh has been working with Andrews Sykes for the past year, and he shared some insights on what it’s like to be a lorry driver with us.
The process of becoming a lorry driver
According to Josh, becoming a lorry driver involves passing a written theory test and two practical tests. The practical tests start with a blind reverse test, and if you pass that, you move on to the main road test. The tests can be quite intense, and it took Josh two tries to pass due to nervousness. However, he encourages new drivers not to be disheartened if they fail the first time and to keep at it, practice makes perfect.
A typical day in the life of a lorry driver
Josh starts his day with breakfast at hom e and a protein shake at work while chatting with the engineers and admin staff in the communal kitchen area. Once he’s ready and able to work, he collects his paperwork from the depot transport manager. On a normal working day, he does four jobs, usually two deliveries and two collections.
Before Josh heads off, he does vehicle checks. Although this is done by the transport managers, Josh claims that it is important that he double-checks himself as he is the one driving and therefore responsible. This includes a walk-around checking mirrors, washers, indicators, warning lights, tires, fluid levels, and the overall body condition of the vehicle.
The first job was a collection, but Josh explained that if we were delivering, he would always triple-check to ensure the load itself with our units is secured properly. He stressed the importance of this to him and other drivers on the road. Lastly, the driving route itself is always checked on multiple GPS apps, and he checks his journey route to see what roads he would be restricted to go down.
After this question, we were on our way to the lorry. I have never been in a lorry before, so I had no clue what to expect. My first thought was that this is the tallest vehicle I have ever been in.
As mentioned before, our job for the morning was a collection of pumps and hoses at a major water treatment facility in East London. The hoses and pumps were hired for over a year by this customer, and Josh was very familiar with the client and point of contact at the site.
The smell was the first thing I noticed, and I realised that the only ones doing the real dirty work were those submersible pumps from our fleet.
The ups and downs of being a lorry driver
For Josh, the most “annoying” part (annoying used very loosely) about the job is the traffic in London, which can be frustrating for any driver. Despite this, the job is very flexible and has a huge concentration on the health and safety of the drivers. There are strict rules about driving and working hours, which require good time management. It is a legal requirement that lorry drivers, can only drive for 4.5 hours before needing a mandatory 45-minute break, similarly, there’s another rule that drivers only work for 6 hours then I need a 30-minute break. It’s not a disadvantage but it can lead to journeys taking longer than they should if the time isn’t managed well.
Despite the challenges, Josh enjoys being a lorry driver and referred to it as a “job for life”. He describes it as a job for life since everyone needs drivers, and it’s an easy skill to learn. Josh finds a sense of community among fellow drivers, affectionately referring to it as “The lorry driver code.” From what I observed, this code embodies a warm and amicable culture, where a simple thumbs-up is exchanged between drivers to acknowledge one another on the road. Even the use of indicators to express gratitude, rather than hazard lights, is a distinctive feature of this friendly community culture.
Advice for new lorry drivers
For those considering becoming lorry drivers, Josh encourages them to prepare for the long hours and get used to being by themselves. He also advises that if you don’t know something, always ask, as guessing can lead to accidents. Safety is critical when driving a large vehicle, so take your time to secure things properly.
For new lorry drivers, it’s important to stay alert and focused while driving for long hours, as fatigue can be a major risk factor. Take breaks, when necessary, stay hydrated, and avoid driving if you’re feeling too tired. Remember, safety should always be your top priority when driving a large vehicle.
Being a lorry driver may not be the easiest job in the world, but for those who enjoy freedom and the open road, it can be a rewarding career choice. We hope this post has provided you with some insights into what it’s like to be a lorry driver. Thank you, Josh, for sharing your experiences with us!