We strongly oppose extending drivers' hours to cover the HGV drivers' shortage

RHA policy director Duncan Buchanan has told GB News that we do not support the extension of drivers' hours as a measure to ease the effects of the HGV driver shortage crisis. 

Josh Reynolds

Josh Reynolds | 9th July 2021 11:12 AM

From Monday 12 July, drivers’ hours will be extended for a limited period of four weeks, allowing for driving time of up to ten hours per day, rather than nine.

The relaxation has been brought in as a measure to alleviate the strain on the haulage industry which has been caused by the shortage of around 100,000 HGV drivers.

RHA policy director for England and Wales Duncan Buchanan told GB News that we strongly oppose this move, saying: “Something people need to understand, is that lorry drivers already work very long hours”.

He also explained that, drivers’ hours restrictions are related only to the driving time that truckers undertake, and that drivers will have compulsory rests on top of that, plus time waiting to load and unload.

“Many drivers are working flat out and are doing 13 hour days at the moment, and have been doing this for a long time,” Duncan explained.

“Right at the very beginning of the pandemic, these guys were absolutely working flat out. They’ve had virtually no holidays in the last 18 months. We’re actually seeing fatigue and exhaustion, and what we felt was this was the wrong solution for where we are at the moment.”

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We have put together a 12-point action plan, listing steps which would help to tackle the causes and effects of the HGV driver shortage. These actions include improving the treatment of drivers at collection and delivery points, prioritising HGV driving tests, and tackling the apprenticeship funding gap.

We’ve also issued a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for urgent action to be taken.

The letter was signed by 22 business leaders, representing the producers and distributors of foods and drinks, energy suppliers and many other familiar names in the logistics sector, and laid out some of the leading causes of the current driver shortage crisis, as well as calling for action to be taken to help alleviate the issue.

These actions include:
• The introduction of a temporary worker visa for HGV drivers and for this occupation to be added to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List,
• A taskforce to be immediately established to include representation from all the relevant areas of Government and industry to help drive this change at the pace that is so desperately needed,
• Re-establishing the DEFRA Food Resilience Industry Forum, chaired by Chris Tyas, which helped to ensure the nation’s supply integrity throughout the pandemic.

As the summer holidays draw near and lockdown restrictions relax, pressure on the industry will increase and the producers of goods will be faced with having stock of goods they can’t get moved.

You can view the letter here.