V8 State of Mind

Passing Your HGV Test: A Question of Attitude

Passing Your HGV Test: A Question of Attitude

The question I'd like to pose is:


What do you remember of your HGV test?


Maybe it's a blur. Or maybe you recall each part of it with uncomfortable precision.


Either way, before you took your test, it's likely that you received some advice beforehand.


Don't accelerate harshly.

Watch those mirrors.

Know the Highway Code back-to-front.


People will of course focus on the various technical aspects of the test. Where many fall down, however, is in one key area: attitude.


Passing any test well requires a certain strength of mind; a certain correctness of mental approach.

And demonstrating competence behind a big old V8 is, unsurprisingly, no exception.


So, whether you're about to take your test, and are after some advice; or would like to see if the attitude towards attitude has changed since you passed; here are 3 key personal qualities today's HGV assessors look for.


1. Responsiveness - but not too responsive


At a glance, this advice seems a touch counter-intuitive. Surely, some of you are thinking, there's no such thing as being too responsive when you're handling an artic on a 60-degree gradient? But looking at it from that angle, we miss the point.

In the HGV test, calmness is a key indicator of competence. If you make a slight error, and the examiner points it out, reacting like a cat under a power-shower would be just as bad, if not worse, than not reacting at all.

So if, suddenly, you realise you've went a few MPH over the limit, slamming on the brakes is the last thing you want to do. Jumpiness endangers yourself, the vehicle and other road users - and the examiner will mark you down for it.

If, on the other hand, you react promptly but calmly to the examiner's direction, and squeeze on the brake until you're safely back under the limit, you'll be praised in the evaluation for demonstrating confident command of the vehicle.


2. Sympathy


This is a word not many tend to associate with HGV driving. In fact, given the well-publicised ill-will exhibited toward the road haulage industry today, many would be surprised that sympathy is crucial for success in the Category C test.

There are two types of sympathy a driver must demonstrate during the exam.

The first is vehicle sympathy. You have to be know the vehicle, know the load, and be aware of the limitations of both. But how exactly do you demonstrate this?

Well, it ties into the second type of sympathy: sympathy for other road users.

By knowing your vehicle, you're fully aware of the damage it could do in any given situation. Therefore, you know what measures to take to minimize the risk your lorry poses to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

You will know when to split lanes, for example. And you will competently approach street furniture, and anticipate the the manoeuvres of motorbikes in crosswinds.

And that brings us neatly to our third quality.


3. Flexibility


Adaptability would be an equally suitable word. There is nothing that infuriates an HGV testing assessor more than a driver who can't adapt.

As any seasoned wagoner will tell you, very few hauls go entirely to plan. 'Take the world as it is, not as it ought to be', as the German proverb goes (supposedly). And while that saying far predates the birth of the HGV, the lesson is entirely relevant: on the road, things will happen that will frustrate, impede, delay and endanger you - it's your job to navigate them confidently, calmly and safely.

From selecting the correct lane on the approach to a roundabout in good time, to anticipating the distracted left-turn of a driver using a mobile phone - being able to foresee problems and acting upon them is the sign of a candidate who deserves to pass their HGV test.


All of these qualities form part of the same general attitude: being proactive.


Make no mistake: reactive is old news, being proactive is something all drivers on today's roads should not only aspire to, but make second nature.


So, what's next? Well, upon passing your test, you need to look into the next phase of your training. This part may send shivers down the spines of those that have already been through it. Luckily, there's free info at hand, and plenty of guidance on tap. Hit the button to get the rundown:



Picture of Rex Grainger
Written by Rex Grainger

Chronicling life behind the V8; off the analogue, on the RTD and very vroom-vroom...

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