The UK government has allocated £20m (US$26m) to improve roadside facilities for HGV drivers and tackle the driver shortage in the UK.
The investment will go toward improving security, showers and eating facilities as well as to explore increasing the number of parking spaces for lorry drivers. The funding is part of government agency National Highways’ existing £169m (US$220m) Users and Communities Fund. The funding takes the total government investment in driver facilities to £52.5m (US$68.5m) since 2021, as £32.5m (US$42.4m) was previously committed in the Chancellor’s budget to provide better facilities for HGV drivers across the country.
Other measures to support the haulage industry include £34m (US$44m) invested by the government to create new HGV Skills Bootcamps to train just over 11,000 people to become HGV drivers in England. Furthermore, due to the allocation of additional employees into testing, the number of HGV driving tests available has increased by 90% compared with pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, plans have been set out to widen the pool of registered healthcare professionals authorized to complete DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) medical questionnaires, reducing administrative burdens on general practitioners (GPs).
Following these measures, DVLA has processed more than 240,000 vocational (bus and lorry) license applications since October 2021. In December 2021, it issued 150% more provisional vocational driving licenses (14,210 in total) than in the equivalent pre-pandemic month in December 2019. Meanwhile, DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) carried out 27,144 HGV driving tests between October and December 2021 compared with the same period in 2019, when 17,685 HGV tests were carried out.
Baroness Vere, Roads Minister for the UK government, said, “HGV drivers play a key role in keeping our nation running and contributing to the economy, and it is vital they feel safe and comfortable wherever they stop. That’s why we’re allocating £20m to ramp up security and improve amenities for drivers – building on the raft of measures we’ve already taken to support the industry. We’ll continue to work closely with the sector to boost professional driver numbers even further.”
Nick Harris, chief executive at National Highways, said, “We want all road users to reach their destination safely, and encourage everyone, from those who drive as a profession through to people traveling on holiday or for leisure purposes, to plan ahead before setting off and to take regular breaks. We are dedicated to improving the experience of everyone using our roads and remain committed to working closely with operators of roadside facilities to help improve the standard of parking and other amenities they provide on motorways and major A roads. We are hopeful that the £20m being announced today will go some way toward achieving this goal.”
Ken McMeikan, CEO of Moto Hospitality, said, “This announcement is a welcome boost for the UK’s hardworking HGV drivers and the sector. It is encouraging to see that the input provided by Moto and other industry figures has been acknowledged and acted upon by the Department for Transport. Moto continually invests in refurbishing and cleaning the services we provide for HGV drivers and has been investing £12.5m [US$16.4m] in upgrading all our showers and toilet facilities. We look forward to making an application to this £20m fund, which would allow us to accelerate our plans for enhanced security and increase the physical number of showers we can offer.”
Mags Simpson, head of policy engagement at Logistics UK, said, “The announcement of an additional £20m to boost HGV driver facilities is a positive step forward for industry, and Logistics UK is now calling on roadside service operators to urgently apply for funding. Logistics UK members have previously cited the lack of available lorry parking and suitable roadside facilities as one of the main barriers to recruitment and as a result, an increase in funding for this vital sector of the economy is much-welcomed news. Lorry drivers are required by law to take regular rest periods, including overnight mandated rest breaks. It is vital that these key workers, who are charged with keeping the nation stocked with all its required goods, have a safe place to take these breaks, where they are also able to make use of much-needed bathroom and catering facilities.”