New HGV drivers facing 24-week driving test delay

New HGV drivers facing 24-week driving test delay

 

New HGV drivers are facing a 24-week wait to sit their driving tests to become lorry drivers, with experts urging the government to do more to ease the testing delays.

With the potential spectre of supply chain issues similar to those seen in the recent fuel crisis looming large in the run-up to Christmas, the delays are causing some concern for the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

What’s the current situation?

The supply chain has faced a barrage of problems this year, with the impact of the coronavirus having far-reaching consequences.

The shortage of available drivers has resulted in the government acting to encourage more people to train to become HGV drivers, as well as introducing temporary visas to ease the pressure before Christmas.

Petrol stations ran low on fuel for a time, with the government deploying army personnel to drive fuel tankers…

All of this highlighted the issues the commercial fleet sector is facing to attract new drivers, replace retiring employees, and retain existing drivers.

But we’ve known about these issues for years.

The RHA has estimated that the shortfall of HGV drivers in the UK stands at around 100,000, and that figure has risen significantly since the start of 2020 when it was 60,000.

However, we know that the UK isn’t the only country facing a driver shortage, with Germany, France, and Poland also experiencing significant delays and problems in the sector – Europe as a whole is around 400,000 drivers short of where it needs to be.

So, what’s happening with HGV driver testing?

A perfect storm of the pandemic, Brexit, and an ageing workforce have caused problems in the haulage sector.

The Department for Transport extended drivers hours and a range of measures to help ease the burden on fleets, including a streamlined HGV driving test…

This, the government said, will increase capacity in HGV testing by 50,000 per year.

There was also a recruitment drive for more examiners and the temporary visas for non-UK based drivers we mentioned earlier – this was initially for three months in the lead up to Christmas, though it has now been extended until the end of March 2022.

But as we know, attracting drivers has been problematic. Some firms are offering significant sums as sign-on bonuses, as well as salaries increasing by as much as 40% in the last 6 months in some cases.

Part of the issue is the delay in those wanting to become an HGV driver and qualifying and being ready to drive for a fleet.

In fact, 62% of HGV test centres in the UK have a waiting time of 11 weeks or longer, while some are even dealing with a 24-week wait.

The average waiting time to sit an HGV driving test from application to the day of the test is 9 weeks and with key dates such as Black Friday and Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year period approaching, pressure is mounting on the supply chain.

How is the driver shortage affecting you? Are you aware of delays in HGV testing? Let us know at info@drivingmontor.co.uk