HGV driving, or heavy goods vehicle driving, is the former European term applicable to a truck or lorry driver who is responsible for the over-the-road transport of chemicals, food, construction equipment, and other heavy goods. Today these truckers are called large goods vehicle, LGV, drivers. All HGV truckers, regardless of their home country, must take classes in driving commercial vehicles and pass an HGV driving test in order to earn one of four different categories of HGV licenses. Truckers who transport goods through multiple countries must be aware of the rules of the road and the regulations dictating driving and rest periods in those countries. Someone holding an HGV license most often works for a transport or shipping company.
In the European Union, there are four categories of HGV driving licenses, all of which can be obtained when one is at least 18 years old. The category C HGV license allows a driver to operate a truck weighing over 3,500 kilograms (about 7,716 pounds) pulling a trailer weighing up to 750 kilograms (about 1,653 pounds). The category C+E is the same as the category C license, except that the trailer can weigh over 750 kilograms (about 1,653 pounds).
The category C1 license permits a driver to drive a truck that is 3,500-7,500 kilograms (7,716-16,535 pounds) pulling a trailer weighing up to 750 kilograms (about 1,653 pounds). The category C1+E license is the same as the category C1 license, except that the trailer can weigh over 750 kilograms (about 1,653 pounds), but must not be heavier than the empty truck itself. The truck and trailer combined weight for a category C1+E HGV driving license cannot be over 12,000 kilograms (26,455 pounds).
The trucking industry is highly regulated in the European Union. Trucks are not allowed to go faster than 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour. In some countries large trucks are not allowed to pass. In most European countries, HGV driving on Sundays is prohibited. It is very important for a long-haul truckers to know the driving rules of any country that they pass through since the laws apply to all drivers regardless of their country of origin.
For improved safety, the European Union implemented more stringent HGV driving and resting laws in 2007. For every 4.5 hours of HGV driving, a driver must take a 45 minute break. Each 24-hour period requires 11 mandatory rest hours, nine of which must be consecutive. All HGV drivers are required by law to take breaks of 48 consecutive hours every two weeks. These are some of the minimum standards required by law throughout the European Union. Individual countries are free to enact stricter laws if they choose to do so.