Fleet Drivers – Record Number Of Tests Being Carried Out
The latest research has shown that there are now a record number of tests being carried out for HGV drivers in the UK.
The figures reached concerning levels last year, with the UK ending up in a position where it was around 70,000 drivers short of where it needed to be, resulting in supply chain issues in supermarkets, restaurants, and the hospitality sector.
What Is The Current Situation?
Record levels of HGV driving tests are being carried out, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
It’s thought that a combination of a recruitment drive, new HGV boot camps, and an increase in the number of available HGV tests have helped to ease the driver shortage.
In March 2022, 6,307 drivers passed their HGV driving tests, which is a 50% increase from the pre-pandemic record of 4,268 in March 2017.
This is encouraging for the future of the UK’s haulage infrastructure as more available drivers should ease supply chain issues and increase competition.
The issue was particularly concerning in November and December as the UK prepared for the busy Christmas period while dealing with the combination of global supply chain issues and a shortage of drivers.
At its peak, the UK was short of almost 100,000 drivers due to drivers retiring, EU-based drivers heading back to their home countries during the pandemic, and there not being a ready supply of new drivers to replace them.
The number of tests has also increased since September, with a record number of drivers taking tests – the Road Haulage Association has said that the effort put into improving the image of driving as a career plus a salary increase has encouraged new drivers to take their tests.
It’s been a priority for the government since the supply chain problems caused by the pandemic, which saw many EU-based drivers return home, caused significant issues with product availability in the UK.
How Did The Driver Shortage Begin?
Industry experts had warned of a driver shortage for years, with the workforce made up of a combination of older drivers and EU-based drivers, meaning that there hasn’t been a supply of younger drivers to replace them as they retire or leave.
The issues were exacerbated by Brexit and the pandemic, with driver shortages due to EU drivers leaving and self-isolation rules resulting in empty shelves and supply chain difficulties.
There are significant lessons to be learned for the government and the haulage sector, with increasing costs of fuel, energy, importing, raw materials, and products all causing price pressures.
There have been concerns over safety due to the amount of newly qualified drivers on the road, and it’s why comprehensive testing is SO important.
It’s why driver safety is more important than ever.
Are your drivers feeling pressure to keep up with demand? Have you experienced any issues with the driver shortage over the last 12 months?
Let us know in the comments below.