How did your day start? just think; you jump into the cab, and settle down comfortably. The sun is shining and all is well with the world. All you have to do now is enjoy a drive around a particular part of Britain, delivering goods to nice people who will be happy to see you. An idyllic life, do you think? Perhaps it is, for some (and maybe for you too) but there is a lot more to a courier's life than that!

Overview of UK couriers and their role

When most people think about couriers, they imagine pizza or Chinese takeout drivers in their red or black uniforms, or a postal worker in a little red van. Whilst these are both examples of couriers, there is a lot more to the job than most people may think. There are couriers who work for grocery stores, retailers, manufacturers, and other businesses that need to transport goods from one place to another. The job of a courier may entail driving a van, delivering parcels, or even riding a moped.

Some drivers work on a part-time basis, whilst others work full-time plus many hours of overtime. The hours can vary depending on the business and what needs to be delivered.

Before they start .....

When couriers starts their shifts, they'll do a quick inspection of their delivery vehicle to make sure that it's in good condition and is safe to operate. They will also make sure that their vehicle is fully loaded and that the equipment inside the vehicle, such as a laptop or a handheld device, is fully charged and ready to go.

If they are making deliveries with parcels or packages, they will also need to make sure that the cargo space in the back of the vehicle is properly organised and ready to be loaded with the deliveries in the right order.

two female couriers
What is it like? ask a courier!

Staying safe

For a courier, as for anyone else driving on a UK road, there are certain safety procedures that must be followed at all times. For example, there should be no eating or drinking allowed whilst driving, and the driver must always wear a seat belt. If the cargo that requires a secure load, such as a pallet of merchandise, they must secure it properly and use the right tie-downs. A driver should also never be behind the wheel whilst drowsy, and they should never, never text whilst they are behind the wheel. They should also remain alert whilst they are driving; accidents can happen all too easily!

Navigating the roads

For most couriers, this is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. Not only do they navigate busy city streets, but they also navigate the sometimes-chaotic roads of smaller towns, villages, and rural areas. A driver is constantly on the lookout for potential hazards, such as pedestrians or cyclists who may be in the path or cars that are in a blind spot or that may not see the van. They always need to be sure to leave plenty of time to make it to their destination, including any stops that are required along the way. This is especially true during rush hour, when the roads can become congested with traffic.

Dealing with traffic

Even though they are prepared for it, they are never truly ready for the traffic an will sometimes be delayed by it for long periods. If deliveries are scheduled to arrive at a specific time, this must be taken into account when estimating delivery times. It's always a good idea to arrive at least 10 minutes early to account for any unexpected delays.

Estimating delivery times

Couriers must always be aware of how long it will take them to get from one place to another. This includes the time spent driving to a customer's house or business premises, making the delivery, and then getting to the next customer or returning to the original depot. It's important to account for any traffic, construction, and other road hazards that may cause delays or create a traffic jam. If a customer has a specific time that they need their delivery by, such as a package that needs to be delivered before a certain time for a meeting or for a flight, it's always a really good idea to let the customer know if there is a delay, and the reason for it.

Communicating with customers

Communication is key between the driver and customer. The driver should inform the customer that they are on their way and how long it should take to reach the delivery destination. When the drivers arrives at a customer's location, they should knock on the door or ring the doorbell to ensure the customer is aware a delivery has arrived; simply leaving a parcel on a doorstep, where it can be stolen or damaged by wildlife, is a recipe for a bad customer relationship.

Handling packages

During a long shift, the driver may have many packages to deliver. It is important to handle these packages with care, as some could easily break; to avoid this, fragile items should be clearly marked. To ensure the delivery of goods is successful, the driver should keep the vehicle clean and free of any dirt or dust. The driver should also be careful when loading and unloading parcels, as the goods should be kept in their original packaging to avoid breakage.

Maintaining the delivery vehicle

A delivery vehicle must be maintained so that it is always safe to drive and can make it through a full shift. This includes regular oil changes, tyre rotations, and scheduled maintenance. It's also important to check the vehicle before driving off to make sure everything is in working order, such as the lights, the brakes, and the tyres.

And at the end of the day .....

After a long day on the road, the driver should make sure the vehicle is tidy and park it in the correct parking area and lock the doors. It's also important to make sure the vehicle is kept in a safe location. There are many thieves who are eager to steal a delivery van, as they are often used to transport high-value items; an alarm system can be a very wise investment.

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