A review by the British Department for Transport (DfT) will seek to improve compulsory on-going training for HGV and bus drivers, in the latest of 30 measures to support the road haulage sector and encourage more people to return to the profession.
Drivers currently need to undergo five days of periodic training every five years to ensure they remain fully qualified to drive heavy goods vehicles and buses professionally and up to date with road safety standards.
This training is an EU initiative and is compulsory within what is known as the Driver Certificates of Professional Competence (DCPC) regime.
The DfT notes while its aim is to keep standards high, some drivers are left to pay for the training themselves and are not paid while attending their training course. Feedback from industry suggests this puts off many drivers who have left the profession from returning.
The review will examine how the process can be updated to reduce the burden on drivers – both returning and new – and ensure it does not act as a barrier to working in the sector.
“We’re listening to industry leaders who have told us about the issues HGV drivers face with CPC arrangements,” said UK Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.
“Now we’ve taken back control of our own laws and regulations, I’m delighted to say we’re launching a review into these training rules.
“We understand it’s vital for drivers to remain fully qualified – but we’re looking to ensure they can do so in the most efficient way possible whilst maintaining road safety standards. No driver should be out of pocket or out of work through no fault of their own.
“This is the latest in a raft of 30 measures we’ve taken to support this vital sector and encourage drivers to return to the job or kick-start a new career in the industry. These measures are working – there is no backlog of HGV licence applications and we’re seeing over a thousand more people than normal apply for a licence each week.”
In a further move to encourage more people back to the sector and attract new recruits, the government is working with stakeholders to identify a number of lorry parks across the country where short-term facilities such as temporary toilets, showers and catering can be delivered in the coming months.
The government also emphasised the expectation councils consider new proposals for these facilities constructively and has committed to review guidance.
This follows the GBP32.5m (US$44m) recently committed in the Chancellor’s budget to provide better facilities across the country for HGV drivers.
Some GBP500,000 will also be added to the existing Mode Shift Revenue Support Fund for 2021 to 2022. This GBP20m grant scheme provides funding to private-sector freight companies to encourage them to move more freight from the country’s roads to either the railways or inland waterways.
The DfT maintains the additional funding equates to taking 29,000 lorry loads of goods off the roads up until the end of March, 2022 and will help to generate more environmentally friendly modes of transporting freight.
“The measures announced will support our members in their efforts to attract and retain new HGV drivers to the sector,” added Logistics UK director of Policy, Elizabeth De Jong.
“Inadequate driver facilities across the roads network have led to a negative impression of our industry, creating a barrier to entry to our sector and are an issue Logistics UK has been campaigning on for many years; we are pleased the government has listened to our concerns and will move forward with a rapid programme of improvements.”
Among other measures taken to support the haulage industry, the evaluation process has been streamlined, the number of weekly HGV tests available has increased by 90% and training for up to 5,000 new drivers has been announced.
The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) has processed more than 40,000 HGV and vocational licence applications in four weeks, with applications which do not require complex medicals being turned around in five working days.
DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is providing 1,350 more tests than normal a week at sites across the country says the DfT.