From the office to the open roads
On Tuesday 28th January, I started my day very differently to the usual. I arrived at Olive House, our Northallerton Head Office at around 8.30am to change into my safety shoes & put on my hi-viz jacket. Today was the day I swapped the desk job to be a passenger with one of our fabulous Kerfoot HGV drivers. My teacher/guide for the day was Bob Grimston. After a quick photo & ensuring I got into the cab ok (as I was thinking HOW will I get up there?!) Bob talked me through what would be in store for us. My first thought as we set off was WOW how high is this & I can’t believe I’m in a truck (girlie I know!)
Bob’s usually up at 4am, his first job when he arrives at the site is to always check the load is secure & sort out all his paperwork before he leaves about 6am. At each tip Bob explained what he did as we went along & the first thing I learnt was how to undo the curtain straps. I gave it ago myself & by the time I’d managed to undo two the whole curtain was loose as Bob was very quick (oh well at least I gave it a go). Once we’d offloaded we hopped back into the cab to grab the paperwork. Bob explained who needs what & where they need to sign. Before leaving the site we also checked for any of our empty returnable IBCS to take back with us. After we had closed the curtains & tightened the straps, which is very important to ensure the load doesn’t move around during transit, we were back in the cab ready to set off again. More than once across the day the heavens opened & drenched us just before we managed to jump back into the cab!
The tips were over & done with a lot quicker than I had imagined & we were soon on the road again, which gave me the opportunity to chat to Bob about his driving life with the Kerfoot Group. Bob has been with the company for 9 years & as we drove along with the rain thrashing down I wondered which conditions Bob found most difficult to drive in. His worst are fog & wind as he’s had a number of scary experiences in both these conditions! It made me realise how well our drivers do to drive these large vehicles in such hard conditions.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the day was going (I was having such an eye opener I didn’t want it to end) & before I knew it we were on our 30 minute break, which is mandatory for all drivers to ensure their working hours are within the legal limit. Once stationary Bob talked me through his tachograph, which is a device fitted to the lorry that automatically records its speed & distance, together with the driver’s activity selected from a number of options, including driving, working and rest. Bob talked me through each mode & selected rest to show the reader he was on his break. Whilst we ate lunch, I asked Bob about his best & worst runs. His favourite is Scotland as the views & opportunity to drive there are incredible. He didn’t have to think about his worst run…London! The traffic, cyclists & congestion make it very difficult & HGV drivers have to be extremely alert.
Our last drop was done & it wasn’t long before we were back on the road heading back to Northallerton. On the way out onto the motorway Bob lifted his 2nd axle & he explained that this saves on tyre wear so is vital to lift wherever possible, when the truck doesn’t have much weight on, which is something I didn’t know. We arrived back to Olive House at 4ish & I took off my hi-viz & changed into my usual shoes, which ended my day as a trucker! It was a refreshing change, very educational & an eye opener but also great to get to know Bob & hopefully he found it a great experience too! The weather was typically British, the roads were clear & the day was Incredible. I hope I have the opportunity to venture out again in the future & a huge thanks to Bob for being so cooperative & great company for my trucking experience.
Hazel Smart, Logistics Coordinator