50 years of the HGV test | Motoring Issues - Car News Mar 2020

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18:56 Tuesday 07 Apr 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has forced society to consider who is and who isn’t a key worker, with the importance of the HGV drivers who ensure our supermarket shelves remain stocked and our petrol stations remain open now appreciated more than ever.

Lesser known is the fact that this year marks exactly half-a-century since the UK introduced a compulsory driving test and licence for HGVs, a defining moment for the profession.

February 1970 saw The Heavy Goods Vehicle (Drivers’ Licences) Regulations 1969 come into force, making it an offence to drive, or to employ another to drive, a heavy goods vehicle without the appropriate licence.  Ordinary driving licence holders were, until the act was introduced, entitled to drive a heavy goods vehicle, and holders of ordinary driving licences who could prove their recent HGV driving experience would receive an exemption from having to take the new test until their licence expired.

However, for the rest, a HGV licence would be required by anyone driving a rigid goods vehicle with an unladen weight of over 3 tons or an articulated vehicle with a tractive unit of more than 15cwt unladen.  The regulation split HGVs into eight categories, with the minimum age for most licences set at 21.  In February 1970, the cost of a provisional HGV licence was a princely ten shillings.  A medical examination costing around three guineas would also have to be passed, as would a practical HGV driving test at one of 64 full-time or 25 part-time testing centres approved by the Ministry of Transport.  The test fee was £6, with a further pound payable for the full licence.  The new HGV test would take around two hours, with the applicant expected to demonstrate thorough knowledge of the Highway Code, the mechanical operation and condition of their vehicle, and of safe driving and load positioning.  Manoeuvring tests would be conducted at the test station followed by a 25-mile road test in a variety of conditions.  


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