The penny has dropped – and what the RHA has been saying for months has finally prompted the Government to act.  They have announced changes to simplify the HGV testing process.   It’s been a long and frustrating battle for our hard-pressed industry - facing a daily battle to get drivers behind the wheel of trucks and orders fulfilled.

Rod McKenzie

Rod McKenzie | 13th September 2021 2:21 PM

So how well has Government listened – and are their actions enough?

The answer is both yes and no – and there’s a dangerous safety sting in the tail, too.

The RHA has long campaigned for a single test – for rigid and artics – so that would-be drivers don’t have to do through the palaver that currently faces them.

So that’s good – reducing delays and friction.  But it won’t solve the crisis of 100 thousand missing truckers.  This continues to be a deteriorating situation without access to global labour in the short term: in other words, visas for overseas drivers or a change to the shortage occupation list to add truckers.  The maths is against us – more people are leaving than are joining even at this potentially faster rate.

We need to reform driver CPC, too.   We’ve come up with the idea of a “one for one” – that’s one year’s driver entitlement for one module of driver CPC.  This is designed to keep existing drivers working and tempt those who have left to come back as wages rise.

Now the bad bit.

We are surprised at the Government’s plans to axe the B + E training test:  this is a cavalier and dangerous approach to road safety. Car drivers will no longer need to take a separate test to tow a trailer or caravan.  The idea here is to free up testing slots for HGVs.

But these plans allow new drivers to tow massive loads behind cars and vans without any training or testing.  This needs to be urgently reconsidered.  The answer is to delegate exams to trainers authorised by DVSA or to use a training system modelled on the one used for motorbikes.

The Government has got it half right – and half wrong – and still failed to address the immediate shortage of drivers and the threat to the Christmas supply chain.