The UK government is seeking views on how to make it easier to land a successful career in logistics, as it continues to tackle the global driver shortage and support new jobs in the UK’s supply chain.
The views submitted by members of the public and industry professionals are expected to assist the government with ongoing research into how post-Brexit freedoms are used to create opportunities for people across the country. Some of the potential options set out in the call for evidence – launched on August 5, 2022 – include creating a formal register of HGV driving instructors and publishing pass rates for instructors. This could help improve HGV driver training standards, raise the profile of the profession and enhance road safety. The call for evidence will also seek views on whether the UK should permit mechanics who already hold an HGV license to drive vehicles like buses or coaches for repair purposes and reintroduce other lost so-called ‘grandfather rights’ in the UK.
Questions around reintroducing grandfather rights explore whether the UK should allow those who hold a normal car driving license to drive certain larger vans or smaller lorries up to 7.5 tons. Prior to January 1, 1997, people who passed their driving test for a normal car also obtained the right to drive minibuses and heavier, larger vehicles up to 8.25 tons; these entitlements were removed by the EU. There could be restrictions based on age or driving experience, which is reflected in the questions set out in the call for evidence.
This follows the government’s 33 actions already taken to tackle the HGV driver shortage and protect the supply chain, which has seen record numbers of HGV driving test pass rates and positive reports from the sector of stable driver numbers. The government’s actions to help the sector tackle the global shortage of drivers have included making 11,000 HGV driver training places available through skills boot camps, injecting a sustained boost to the number of HGV driver tests available, and investing £52.5m (US$63.6m) in improvements in roadside facilities and lorry parking.
According to the government, since these measures, the sector has started to recover and industry bodies have said they are seeing HGV driver numbers stabilize. For example, between March 2022 and May 2022, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carried out 29,384 HGV tests – 54% more than the corresponding period in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Karl McCartney, the UK’s Transport Minister, said, “Our country has a robust supply chain and our ongoing and unprecedented support for the haulage sector means that the number of HGV drivers is stabilizing. We continue looking for ways to make it easier and quicker to kickstart a rewarding career in logistics. That’s why we’re asking people for their views on how we could streamline the licensing process and remove any potential barriers – making the most of our post-Brexit freedoms.”
Following the UK government’s call for evidence on opportunities for changes to the driver licensing regime, Logistics UK has welcomed the review, saying it could ease pressures on operators. Chris Yarsley, road freight regulation policy manager of Logistics UK, commented, “Logistics UK welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the driver licensing review. The proposal to permit a Category C license holder (held for two years) to drive public service vehicles (PSVs) for maintenance and repair will ease pressures on operators. Logistics UK will review proposals that seek to improve standards in training by creating a formal register of instructors and publishing pass rates. Initiatives that increase road safety are welcome but must not place an additional burden on the industry.
“Ahead of this call for evidence, Logistics UK highlighted to the government that the zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet will be heavier than petrol and diesel vehicles, meaning weight thresholds – which are a quarter of a century old – will need to be reviewed to maintain fleet efficiency. Logistics UK will continue to communicate with the government on this and will include it within its response.”
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