Have you ever wondered what its like to drive a lorry? Maybe you are considering a career change and think lorry driving could be the right fit for you! Here at Scottish Plant & Operators we are doing a new series, “A day in the life of…”, which will give an insight into different job roles within the Scottish Plant Industry. The first post of the series will be “A day in the life of… A Tipper Driver”. We caught up with David Hopkins from Allstone Glasgow to do a Q & A about his current role as a tipper lorry driver.
Q. How long have you been in the Scottish Plant industry?
A. 27 years
Q. Why did you become a tipper lorry driver?
A. It has always been something I have been interested in, trucks and machinery. The hours suited us really well too – having a young family at the time.
Q. What kind of work did you do before driving a tipper?
A. I was a traffic coordinator in a quarry I also did lorry driver training.
Q. Is this industry heavily regulated?
A. I would say the UK is the most regulated in the world for driving.
Q. What is the most interesting site/project you have worked on?
A. Oh there are loads, I can’t think of a specific one. The Falkirk Wheel was good!
Q. Can you describe a typical working day in the life of a tipper lorry driver?
A. I am up for 5am to start work for 6am, we are usually transporting materials (soil/stone/aggregates) from one site to the next and I finish at 4pm.
Q. What qualifications does someone need to become a lorry driver?
A. To become a lorry driver you need to, firstly, be over 18years of age and have a full, valid driving licence and you then have to obtain your HGV licence and drivers CPC qualifications.
Q. What’s the best part about your job?
A. Being on your own all day, I like my own company.
Q. What’s the worst part about your job?
A. Breakdowns, they completely mess up the rest of your work schedule for the day.
Q. Have you ever seen any bad accidents whilst out on the roads?
A. I have been involved in some myself over the years, the worst one was when I was in a head on collision with a fire engine, the young guy driving the fire engine was just learning. I ended up having to take 6 months off work with PTSD – that was the worst one.
Q. How does your job affect you lifestyle?
A. It doesn’t, it fits into my lifestyle well, the hours are great!
Q. What’s your favourite kind of truck?
A. (Without hesitation) A Volvo, hands down.
Q. What is your favourite road?
A. The Crainlarich road to Oban.
Q. Do you peer in sunroofs?
A. I usually just tell them to put the window down!
Q. Where do you usually stop for your breaks?
A. I prefer to stop in the countryside or by a river, I don’t really like truck stops.
Q. With it being such a sedentary job, how do you keep yourself fit and healthy?
A. (Laughing) Have you seen me?
Q. (Awkwardly) Moving on, what kind of challenges do you face at work? Does the weather affect your job?
A. Ice, we can deal with heavy rain, snow, wind, whatever, but ice is horrible to drive on!
Q. Do you ever do over nights and have to sleep in the cab of your lorry?
A. No, I specifically asked for a lorry without a sleeper cab! I used to all the time but now I prefer to do my day shift and go home at the end of the day.
Q. How do you keep yourself entertained on long drives?
A. The radio, I like Radio 4. I prefer to listen to the politics and the play of the day. I don’t listen to too much music as I find it distracting and I get carried away playing the steering wheel bongos!
Q. How would you describe this job to a child?
A. Fun! You get to be out on the roads seeing loads of this country.
Q. Would you encourage young people to get into this industry?
A. Yes, and I have! Both of my sons are in the industry – they have the same interest in trucks as I do!
Q. What progression routes are there for someone in this industry?
A. There are loads! I used to do driver training, you can do that or go into traffic management or health and safety.
Q. What skills are important for your position?
A. You need to have good geographical knowledge and the ability to remain calm on the roads. When you are on sites you are the ambassador for your company therefore your communication skills have to be good as well.
Q. What did you want to be growing up?
A. A joiner – don’t know what happened there!
Q. If your current job were to disappear, what other job would you consider?
A. Social care, I enjoy helping people. I volunteered at our local community centre for years just helping with everything they needed.
Q. And finally, if money were no object, what would you do with your life?
A. I would buy a house in the Canary Islands and spend 6 months at home and 6 months abroad every year – that’s the retirement plan!