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LGV or HGV drivers – what’s the difference?

The Government is playing 'Russian roulette' with road users' safety, a union claims.

If you’re thinking about starting your career as an LGV or HGV driver, you’ve got an exciting journey ahead of you. But you’ve also got to work out exactly what kind of vehicle you want to drive. A common question that we’re often asked is ‘what’s the difference between an HGV and LGV?’ Depending on who you ask, the answer can either be ‘a lot’ or ‘not much at all’.

In short, it can be thoroughly confusing.

If you’re struggling with some of the LGV or HGV driver terminology, we’re here to help. Here’s our guide to the difference between being an HGV and LGV driver.

HGV or LGV difference

Let’s start with some definitions. HGV stands for heavy goods vehicle, while LGV stands for large goods vehicle. If you’re thinking they sound like the same vehicle, you’d be right. Both weigh more than 3.5 tonnes and both are designed to carry large volumes of cargo. Examples include flatbeds, buttons, fridge trucks, curtain siders, box vans, drop sides, and tippers.

Within this vehicle category you have:

        Small two-axle lorries (3.5 to 7.5 tonnes)

        Larger two-axle lorries (7.5 to 18 tonnes)

        Multi-axle lorries (25 to 44 tonnes)

Whether you’re an LGV or HGV driver in the UK and whether you’re driving a two-axle or six-axle vehicle, you’ll need the same licence to get behind the wheel.

The confusion lies with the fact that LGV can also mean light goods vehicle. Light goods vehicles (as the name implies) are not as heavy as their HGV counterparts, weighing less than 3.5 tonnes. In this case, the LGV acronym refers to vans and pick-up trucks.

The reason LGV has two meanings is historical. And it all comes down to vehicle tax.

When tax discs were first introduced into the UK, larger vehicles were split into two categories: light goods vehicles (LGVs) and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). Factors used to calculate road tax included the construction, purpose, and weight of a vehicle. So, depending on whether a vehicle weighed more or less than 3.5 tonnes, it would be placed into one of two tax bands.

But things changed in 1992. That’s when the UK came into line with the EU’s licence categories and LGV changed from referring to light goods vehicles to large goods vehicles.

If you are planning to become a light goods vehicle LGV driver, you will be able to drive the vehicle on a standard car driving licence (otherwise known as a Category B).

However, if you are planning on driving an LGV or HGV, you can only do so once you have gained the licence relevant to that vehicle (that could be C1, C1+E, C, or C+E).

Hopefully that’s cleared up some of the confusion. Time to learn more about the difference between a lorry and a truck

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