In an open letter to the road haulage sector, ministers have pledged to work with industry leaders to attract new drivers, simplify training and encourage people to stay in the industry to help tackle the HGV driver shortage.
James raised the issues facing businesses in North West Norfolk due to shortages with ministers and put forward proposals from companies how to tackle the issue.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has already worked to ensure almost 1,500 HGV drivers pass their driving test every week but the government is going further still to make sure new drivers get up and running in the industry as quickly as possible.
A new consultation will be launched on allowing drivers to take one test to drive both an articulated and rigid lorry. This would streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and would increase lorry test appointment availability. The consultation will ensure road safety is paramount and set out that drivers will still be supervised until fully qualified.
The consultation will also look at allowing trainers to actually examine drivers in the off-road manoeuvres part of the HGV driving test, and look at whether specific car and trailer tests should be required. This will allow a significant increase in the number of HGV driving tests to be conducted whilst maintaining road safety standards.
The government is also looking to help the road haulage sector improve the working conditions of drivers – something which is key to addressing the shortage and encouraging British workers to forge long, successful careers in the sector. It will support this, initially, by working alongside the industry to support more official parking spaces for lorry drivers and look at ways to improve the standard of lorry parks.
Ministers are also keen to hear more from sector leaders about an industry-led Year of Logistics, looking at various other ways to attract more people to join the industry from all parts of society.
The recently announced temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours rules allows HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys, but must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety.