Motorists could be allowed to drive a lorry without taking a test in a bid to help with the UK’s HGV driver shortage. The limited number of HGV drivers slowed down the transportation of goods and has affected the delivery of fuel to forecourts.
Due to the lack of HGV (heavy goods vehicle) drivers, the UK experienced a significant slowdown in the transportation of goods last year. This year, we also experienced a limited supply of petrol being transported to forecourts which led to havoc as motorists struggled to find fuel.
Now, it has been reported that in order to help the crisis motorists could be allowed to drive a lorry without taking a test. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will open a consultation on whether to lift the ban on motorists driving anything larger than a 3.5-ton vehicle in order to solve HGV driver shortages reports Glasgow Live.
A government source told the Telegraph : “We are past the days when EU directives were handed down on tablets of stone, and we should be prepared to liberalise where we can, testing the necessity for maintaining driving restrictions that were once thought unnecessary in this country. Grant thinks we should have a fresh look at this, but of course this has to be done with due regard for safety.”
In a letter to MPs, the Transport Secretary wrote: “It has been suggested that now the UK has left the European Union, we may wish to allow all car drivers – not just those who passed their test before Jan 1, 1997 – the right to drive these larger vehicles without the need for a further test.
“Changes to the licensing categories would potentially create a greater pool of drivers. I am quite happy to explore this idea and how this may work in reality – without making any commitments to legislative change at this stage.”
The shortage of lorry drivers was heightened after the pandemic and Brexit. According to REC, around 70,000 HGV drivers left their role since the pandemic began, 12,500 of which were EU nationals.
Although REC, also note that the reasons are ‘more complex’, pointing that that ‘retention’ is also a big factor as wages and working conditions have not improved, leading to many leaving the job. They explain: “The primary cause of the most recent shortage appears to be a chronic failure to retain HGV drivers. The pandemic and Brexit have exacerbated this issue causing the effects of the driver shortage to be felt more acutely which has led to the current media interest and government interventions.”