The government has announced plans to overhaul the HGV driving test in a bid to combat the driver shortage affecting the country.
In the wake of a crisis that’s seen an estimated shortfall of 90,000 drivers due to Brexit and COVID-19, the driver shortage in the UK is at crisis level.
The changes include merging the articulated and rigid lorry tests, and car drivers no longer having to take an additional test if they want to tow a trailer or caravan.
The tests will be made shorter by removing the ‘reverse exercise’ element and for vehicles with trailers, the ‘uncoupling and recoupling’ exercise will be scrapped.
The shorter test times caused by the reductions in needed exercises are expected to free up an additional 30,000 HGV tests, according to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.
Drivers will also be able to get a licence to drive an articulated vehicle without first getting one for a smaller vehicle, making around 20,000 more HGV tests available every year.
The changes are yet to be approved by parliament, but they have been met with mixed reactions.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) have shown concern that the changes will affect driving standards and the safety of motorists.
Brian Kenny, Head of Training & Sales, told the BBC that: “According to HSE, there’s about seven people knocked down and killed in yards each year with vehicles reversing.”
“Going forward on the roads should be assessed and should be tested. It’s equally important to test properly how an individual reverses and manoeuvres off the road.”
However, Mr Schapps says that the changes will “not change the standard of driving required to drive an HGV, with road safety continuing to be of paramount importance.”
Why is there a shortage?
The widespread supply chain issues have hit sectors across the country from food and drink to medicine.
Part of the blame has been placed on the number of EU workers leaving the UK after the Brexit deadline.
The other parts fall on the pandemic and tax changes making it expensive for drivers from outside the UK to work or be employed here.
There are also reports of huge backlogs of driver tests, resulting in the shortening of the procedures to make room for 50,000 additional tests every year.