With the prospect of bare shelves at Christmas, the Transport Secretary is taking action to address the HGV driver shortages. Following consultation, Grant Shapps confirmed that changes would be implemented to speed up the driving test process.
The suspension of tests during the Covid pandemic, combined with Brexit restrictions, has resulted in a concerning lack of drivers to deliver essential goods. The proposed changes will relax HGV driving tests in order to allow 50,000 more to be taken. This will hopefully tackle the driver shortage ahead of Christmas.
The three changes
Car drivers will not be able to take a test to tow a trailer or caravan from 20 September onwards. This will allow around 30,000 more HGV driving tests to take place.
Articulated drivers no longer need to gain a licence for smaller vehicles first. By removing this requirement, it is estimated that 20,000 more drivers will be able to take the HGV test.
The HGV test itself will be simplified. The reverse exercise element will be removed, along with the uncoupling and recoupling exercise. Plus, they will not have to be tested separately by a third party.
Mr Shapps commented that the changes will ‘streamline’ the tests but will not ‘reduce the rigour of the test’. With government officials said to be ‘deeply worried about Christmas’, it is hoped these changes will deliver the impact needed.
The changes will ‘streamline’ the tests but will not ‘reduce the rigour of the test’
However, not everyone is convinced. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, believes that removing the first test for articulated lorry drivers will not help.
'This is not going to solve the problem in the short-term because of the sheer numbers we need. We cannot train sufficient numbers between now and Christmas to salvage Christmas.'
'This simply will not solve the crisis, and this crisis is getting worse by the week.'