• 8, March 2024

  • Time to read: 4 mins

Celebrating Female HGV Drivers On International Women’s Day

Sharna Ridge

Content & Outreach Specialist

This International Women’s Day, we want to highlight women working in motor trade.

Here we speak with 34-year-old recovery truck driver Vicky Holland from Birmingham about her career.

What was it like training to drive HGVs?

Vicky: In 2022, I trained for a full class one licence at the Phil Brown Transport Training in Droitwich. It involved quite a lot of studying about heavy goods vehicles. It’s a big responsibility, but if you work hard, you can do it. 

My HGV training prepared me for working as a recovery truck driver, as there isn’t a course to learn specifically about that type of work – other than IVR training, which is about basic safety. Ultimately, we must understand how to transport vehicles safely, even when the situation is quite hazardous. We’re also trained on how to act safely on the road during recovery trips and navigate different environments.

You have to adapt to working with a bigger vehicle.  Before training, I only drove a 3.5-tonne vehicle as I had a standard licence. Now, I have a full class one, and I regularly operate 7.5 and 12-tonne trucks. It’s a dangerous job, and these vehicles are a significant size.

Did you face any challenges while qualifying for your class one licence?

Vicky: I suffer from really bad anxiety, and my course had to be completed in just four days. At the time, my partner had just left me and it was a bad relationship. I was heartbroken, but my training kept me level-headed. I guess you can say I was in a fight or flight mode. It was quite difficult, but I put on the big girl pants and ran with it. I smashed it, though, and passed the course. My trainer offered me a job right before I completed my test, as he could see my potential.

What do you mainly transport?

Vicky: I work with AVS Recovery, so I mostly transport cars. It really depends on the season, though. In the summer, I tend to see more caravans. Those are interesting because once they’re on the bed in the back, your truck is huge, and you have to know how to handle that. The other day, I had a big Luton van—filled with fruit and vegetables—stuck in the mud. That was an intense job that required a lot of risk assessment. It took a lot of rolling around in the mud! 

Recovery truck driver Vicky Holland smiles in her truck

Only 1.2% of HGV drivers are women. Why do you think the number is so low?

Vicky: There are not many female recovery truckers and HGV drivers. While training, I was the only woman working towards the full class one licence. However, training and recruitment for these roles are rarely advertised to women.

In general, I don’t think that women are treated differently than men in the industry, and I get a lot of positive comments. Now, with social media, the word is getting out there that more women are doing and can do these types of roles. I run my Facebook group, ‘Women Recovery & HGV Drivers’, for other drivers to share content and connect.

What inspired you to do this type of work? 

Vicky: I used to race cars and am a bit of a petrolhead! When I started, I had my own truck for my racecar. I really enjoyed doing that, so things progressed from there. I also worked delivering car parts. After taking time out to be a stay-at-home mum for a couple of years, I wanted to get back into working with cars.

Are there any physical challenges working in this field?

Vicky:  I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after my pregnancy. It’s a chronic pain disorder that can have flare-ups. This means that sometimes getting up and down the truck can be difficult for me, depending on how I am. 

It mainly affects me on long-distance journeys. Staying warm is the main way I can manage it, as the heat helps me, and comfortable shoes are a must! At the end of the day, I know how far I can push my body. I know my limits, but I also know my strengths. 

What’s the strangest call-out you’ve had at work? 

Vicky: Sometimes I am called out to people trying to start their automatic car while it’s in neutral gear. Occasionally, people will also put the wrong fuel in, and we’ve had a few like that lately. You just have to laugh and reassure them that it can happen to anyone!

What is the most challenging part of your work?

Vicky: Receiving abuse from other drivers and bearing the brunt of their road rage can be disheartening. It can also be challenging if motorists don’t give us the proper amount of space on the road. Of course, we’re trained in managing large goods vehicles safely, but I’d like other drivers to be aware of safety when on the road with trucks.

What do you love about your job?

Vicky: I love working with cars and trucks. I feel like a big kid! I also like to pick up the interesting vehicles you don’t see too often – especially the posh ones! I’m proud of what I’ve done, and I feel empowered in this job by the joy of helping people, talking to them, and solving their problems. After I’ve done that, I get them back on their way. I take pride in my job and what I do. I handle cars exactly how I expect mine to be treated: with care. 

What advice would you give to women interested in driving HGVs?

Vicky:  My advice to women who want to work in this industry is to go for it!! It’s fun and exciting – but not for the faint-hearted. You have to be firm and not take any rubbish – but everyone can do it. There are no two ways about it. Don’t overthink it, do what you love.

Recovery truck driver Vicky Holland poses in her work uniform.

HGV & Recovery Truck Insurance at One Sure Insurance

Insurance is essential to protecting the livelihoods of hauliers, recovery truck drivers, and motor trade professionals. Whether you’re looking for HGV lorry insurance or a road risk policy, we can help you find the coverage you need. Contact us at 0800 912 0157, and we’ll get you on the road to recovery truck insurance in minutes.

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