If you are in the market for a used lorry, and you have never bought a lorry before, then here is a handy guide to help you demystify some acronyms, terms and phrases that are used by VOSA and the haulage industry to describe certain things. I will also talk about the legal requirements that must be adhered to in order to operate lorries.
Legal responsibilities of a lorry operator
In order to have a fleet of one or more lorries that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight), the fleet owner is required by law to have a vehicle operator’s licence.
There are three different operators licences that can be obtained, the one that you need will depend on what you are doing:
Standard (national) – allows you to carry yours and other peoples goods in your lorry within the United Kingdom;
Standard (international) – as above, but it also permits you to obtain community licences which enables you to drive within EU member countries;
Restricted – only allows you to carry your own goods, and this licence must be renewed every 5 years.
As with cars, lorries must pass an annual MOT test, but additionally both drivers and fleet operators need to perform regular and frequent safety inspection checks on all lorries, which must be documented, and any problems must be reported and logged in writing.
Any rectifications made must also be logged, and all maintenance records must be kept for a minimum of 15 months. Finally, drivers by law can only be on the road for a certain amount of time before needing to take a rest break.
Demystifying the world of used lorries
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of acronyms and terms used in the haulage industry to describe various things. Here are the most common terms:
Tractor – the part of a lorry that is towed, known in the United States as a rig;
Rigid – a rigid truck with two to four axles;
Tipper – a rigid truck with a tipping body (for example, trucks used to transport tarmac);
Wagon – a term used in some parts of the UK to describe a lorry.
It is worth noting that, in the UK, the weight used to describe a lorry is called the GVW – Gross Vehicle Weight. This is essentially the weight of the lorry, including any load, fuel and the weight of the driver.
There are many different axle configurations that are available for lorries. There is an excellent PDF guide which explains all of the different axle configurations in great detail over on the Worcestershire County Council website.
Finally, when you buy a used lorry, you should make sure that spare parts for it are plentiful.
You should have no problem finding spare parts for most of the popular makes, such as DAF, Foden and Scania, and as with cars, there are plenty of lorry breakers around should you have trouble sourcing parts which are no longer made by the lorry manufacturer.