UK to review age limits and training to ease lorry driver shortage - photo credits @ AdobeStock/ vit (illustrative purposes only)

UK to review age limits and training to ease lorry driver shortage

The UK government is exploring ways to address the shortage of lorry drivers through a consultation launched by the Department for Transport. The key proposals focus on potentially allowing 18-20 year olds to drive HGVs on longer distances and expediting HGV driver training.

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The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on measures to address the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK. The proposals focus on making HGV driving careers more attractive to young people and streamlining the training process.

A key element of the consultation is the potential removal of a restriction currently placed on young bus and coach drivers. Under existing regulations, 18-20 year olds with the appropriate license can only operate vehicles on routes up to 50km. The DfT proposes scrapping this limit, allowing them to drive longer distances, including routes like London to Manchester.

The consultation also explores ways to speed up the training process for HGV, bus, and coach drivers. Under the proposed changes, prospective drivers would be able to begin theory and off-road training immediately, before they receive their provisional license. This could potentially shorten the overall training time.

The HGV driver shortage has emerged as a significant concern, impacting supply chains and supermarket stock levels. Industry data suggests the shortage is around 6.6%. The DfT believes the proposed changes can address this issue by:

  • Encouraging young people to pursue HGV driving careers: Removing the age restriction for longer coach routes would open up more opportunities for younger drivers.
  • Increasing training efficiency: Allowing earlier access to theory and off-road training could expedite the path to qualification for new drivers.

Industry welcomes proposal but warns of safety risks

The consultation has been met with cautious optimism from industry bodies. The Confederation of Passenger Transport expressed its support, believing the measures will tackle driver shortages and improve bus and coach services. 

The Road Haulage Association also commended the initiative, welcoming its focus on attracting younger people to the HGV driving profession.

Logistics UK welcomes the proposal for earlier theory training but warn that comprehensive training for safe and qualified HGV drivers remains essential. 

“Allowing young people to start their driver theory training before obtaining their provisional licences will kickstart their route into becoming HGV drivers,” said Chris Yarsley, Senior Policy Manager for Road Freight Regulation at Logistics UK. “However, it is worth remembering that driving a vehicle of this size is a technically challenging occupation, which is highly regulated for a reason, and we will be ensuring as part of the consultation that all the necessary training for qualification as a safe and compliant driver is still achieved before taking to the roads.”