These days many drivers of freight move goods country to country in vans - especially drivers working for themselves and independent couriers. A high proportion of these freight movers have traditional driving licences, nothing extra is need to drive a vehicle carrying a pallet or two of goods onto the continent.
However, what about larger vehicles such as a rigid? What's needed, what type of driving licence is required?
You may have passed a test which entitles you to drive a car or van unaccompanied, but if you want to progress to driving something larger such as a rigid or articulated vehicle, you're likely to have to take an enhanced test, as well as satisfying law enforcement agencies that you are aware of the extra hazards that are likely to be involved in driving a lorry or HGV vehicle.
If you've never driven an articulated lorry, you're in for a surprise.
Driving a larger vehicle
What's so different? Actually it's a lot different to driving a car. For one thing, an articulated lorry is really a vehicle with a trailer. Have you ever tried reversing a vehicle with a trailer, and one that you cannot see the rear of and it's higher than the vehicle you're driving? It's a bit more tricky, and once you've 'jack-knifed' a vehicle with a trailer it's almost impossible to get out of! Turning round corners are different too, you need a lot more space and you have to consider the rear of your vehicle doesn't completely follow you in equal lines - it'll cut corners and take out pedestrians if you're not careful.
Take for example the number of cyclist killed in London alone this year - often because of a number of reasons, lorry drivers have many more blind spots than a person driving a car. If you're a cyclist, equally, best not to get too close to an articulated lorry. This is the reason why the driving test for a larger vehicle is much more different than for a car.
In the UK, there is a minimum age of 18 before anyone can train to drive a van, truck or bus, and additionally, your driving licence will stipulate the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of the vehicles you can drive. If you wish to drive an articulated vehicle with a trailer (+E), you will need to pass two separate tests - one entitling you to drive the vehicle itself, and the second proving that you are competent to handle a trailer.
Importantly, if you are banned from driving a car, you will also lose your entitlement to drive a van, lorry or bus if you have these separate entitlements, for the duration of your ban, and will need to take all the necessary tests for obtaining a licence again once your disqualification ends.
So be mindful, if you depend on a lorry or van for your livelihood - don't get banned for car offences, it'll apply on all your other entitlements.
7. Freight Driving Licence Requirements