Plans Unveiled for Shorter HGV Driving Tests

Planned changes to the HGV testing system have been announced by the Government. The move forms part of efforts to alleviate strain on supply chains as the transport industry grapples with the effects of driver shortages.

The plans include overhauling the existing regime to free up driver testing capacity. As set out to the House of Commons by UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, the new strategy will involve:

  • Allowing car drivers to tow trailers and caravans without the need to pass a separate test
  • Shortening HGV tests by delegating certain elements to third party testers
  • Allowing drivers to gain licences for articulated vehicles without the need to first gain a licence for smaller vehicles

The proposed measures form part of a wider suite of targetted plans that are intended to rapidly introduce new drivers to the industry. Figures from the Road Haulage Association suggest that the UK is facing a shortage of more than 100,000 lorry drivers.

A review published by the Government in September 2021 indicates that the driver shortage can partly be attributed to a testing backlog at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). During the COVID-19 pandemic, the DVSA paused both theory and practical driver testing for all but essential mobile workers.

The Road Haulage Association has criticised the plans, arguing that they pose a risk to road safety.

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