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Thread: Chances of HGV work!

  1. #1

    Chances of HGV work!

    Hi, new to this forum, just looking for some advice.
    My hubby has had his leg amputated and he has ongoing problems with his other leg and remains undiagnosed. He was a very good HGV class 1 driver before he got ill and would love to go back to it. What do you think the chances are of finding a company with adapted vehicles that would employ him?
    Any comments on this would be appreciated.
    Thanks xx

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    I've had a think about this, because I know a little bit (but, only a little) about the haulage industry. Most of what follows will not be news to your husband - indeed, I'm aware that I'm writing about things that he will mostly understand far better than I do.

    The most important thing to establish is whether your husband still meets the medical criteria to hold vocational categories (C and D group categories) on his licence and, if so, what restrictions will be applied to his C and C+E categories. It is mandatory to declare any medical condition that may impair fitness to drive to DVLA. By the sound of it, your husband can no longer drive an unadapted vehicle, so he is in a situation where he must declare his condition to DVLA if he has not done so already.

    Vocational categories have higher medical standards than other categories. This means that some drivers with medical conditions find their vocational entitlements are restricted or revoked when lesser or no restriction are imposed on other categories.

    DVLA's At a Glance guide, which is the quick reference they issue for medical professionals, says "Some disabilities may be compatible with the driving of large vehicles if mild and non-progressive. Individual assessment will be required."

    If DVLA confirm your husband can continue to hold C and C+E entitlement, the next step is considering whether he can do the job itself.

    The most fundamental part of the job is getting into the cab. Most lorry cabs are at high level, with two to four steps up into the cab. If he can't climb the steps to the cab, there's not likely to be a practical way of adapting that vehicle for him. The most common lorries with low level cabs are dustcarts and vehicles used for certain types of multidrop deliveries, but many bin runs need the driver to help with loading the vehicle and multidrop sounds as if it would not be suitable for your husband's likely impaired mobility.

    If your husband can get into the cab, the next consideration is what adaptations he would need to drive. If he has a left leg amputation, that may well not hinder him very much, as most lorry transmissions are now semi-automatic and most of these are clutchless (though some semi-auto Scanias have a three pedal setup and you have to use the clutch to pull away from a halt). If he has a right leg amputation, he is likely to need adapted pedals or hand controls unless he has no problems operating unadapted pedals with whatever prosthetic he wears. It may be difficult to find adapted controls for lorries, as the market will be small and many adaptation firms might not feel comfortable adapting the controls of a vehicle where 44,000kg goes out of control if something goes wrong.

    Many driving jobs are about more than just driving the lorry.

    Walk round checks are a mandatory part of any vocational driver's job, which means your husband has to be well enough to walk round the vehicle and bend down to examine and rectify minor defects with lights and tyres.

    C+E drivers often have to be able to couple and uncouple trailers. On all C+E setups, coupling and uncoupling can involve bending under the trailer to operate landing gear and parking brakes. On an artic, this typically involves climbing onto the tractor unit's catwalk to connect the air lines and electrical cables - there are systems that bring these lines out to the side of the vehicle for connection, but they are far from a universal fit (some fleets fit them to avoid accidents where drivers have been crushed between the tractor cab and the trailer headboard). On wagon and drag, it may be necessary to bend to operate the towbar, also to connect and disconnect the air lines and electrical cables.

    Goods yards and distribution centres are likely not built with the needs of drivers with limited mobility in mind. There might be a long way to walk from some bays to the transport office.

    Many driving jobs also have additional duties, whether that's load securing or rolling cages on and off the vehicle.

    The biggest problem of all may be the current state of the haulage industry with respect to jobs.

    The days of predominantly employee drivers working for lots of small firms with a shortage of good drivers have gone, pretty much. There are a few large employers (specialist logistics firms like Stobart and Kuehne & Nagel, also large parcels/mail outfits like Royal Mail and TNT) who have wiped out many of the small to medium sized firms.

    What work is out there is often through agencies, which potentially means being expected to drive a different lorry every shift. Indeed, my understanding is that the only people who have allocated lorries at Stobart are the trampers - day drivers don't have allocated vehicles, as Stobart try to get maximum use of the vehicles, not leaving them sat in the depot.

    I'm not saying it is impossible for your husband to find his way back into driving C+E vehicles, but I think, putting all this together, it's rather a long shot. Drivers are more plentiful than work in many areas. If an employer has no problem finding fit and healthy drivers, they're not going to be able to justify the costs of adapting a lorry for one driver with special needs, especially as that driver is less flexible than everyone else (if that vehicle is off the road, they'll have to send him home) and may only be able to take on restricted duties.

    There are lorry owner drivers, but it involves taking the transport manager's CPC exam (as you are the transport manager of the firm) and taking on a lot of financial risk - you need an operating centre (you can't get an operator's licence without one), a vehicle and the budget for fuel, repairs and maintenance. It's only something to get into if he has good work lined up and an exit strategy if it all goes wrong. If he is going to do this, it's best to do it as a limited company so that you are not putting your personal assets at risk if the business fails.

    "Man with a van" is an owner driver opportunity that involves less financial risk, but that is likely to involve multidrop or loading and unloading, both of which are of questionable suitability for your husband.

    I know it can be unpopular work because of the "cargo" and the hours, also your husband may not have a D category licence, but if he is fit to drive vocational vehicles and could manage to drive a bus with minimal to no adaptations, many bus companies are always looking for drivers. There's no coupling and uncoupling, no load securing, access to the cab is typically easier than a lorry and modern buses are invariably fully automatic (though some coaches are not).

    Some bus companies will pay for training, though this comes with some form of lock in until they have recovered their costs. As your husband is an experienced driver, it may not cost him much to add the D category to his licence privately if he doesn't already have it, but there is no way round the full process despite his C+E - he'll have to apply for a D provisional, take the bus theory test, take the bus practical test and take the initial bus driver's CPC test. He may well find that he needs less practical training than someone new to driving large vehicles, though any driver undertaking an additional test might find they have bad habits to overcome.

    The only concession his C+E will give him is that he will get D+E entitlement by passing a D test, though there are not many bus plus heavy trailer combinations on UK roads.

    I hope this helps, and apologise for making points that will mostly be obvious to your husband. He's likely to have a much better understanding of what the job involves and what the employment situation is like locally than I do, and may well be able to correct things that I've written.

    He might get some better information by posting on one of the specialist haulage forums. It would help to explain what the effects his amputation are in terms of what he can and can't do, also what adaptations he needs to drive a car.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    On another note your husband could do with re-evaluating not what he can't do but what he can do.

    Sport - as your husband has upper body strength he could look into wheelchair tennis, cricket or archery - you never know where it could lead . . .

  4. #4
    Thank you Flymo for the reply. Hubby doesnt know that i have asked the question on here, it was just me wanting to know if going back to driving was in any was a reality or just a dream. You have given me lots to think about thanks again x

  5. #5
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    West Yorkshire
    Unfortunately, I am unable to give any advice above that given by Flymo. But as an ex HGV driver myself and due to an accident which lead to me being unable to continue, I can understand the urge to get back driving.

    I really hope you and your husband find a way for him to continue driving as once you've been in the job it is in your blood, figuratively speaking.

  6. #6
    Thanks Stevegtuk, Hubby always says there is nothing else he could ever do!! He loves driving and i would def say its in his blood. I think the chances are slim but we are keeping positive x

  7. #7
    Senior Member beau's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    There may be a driving job he could do in a smaller vehicle, stay positive.

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