HGV driving tests to be relaxed to help tackle driver shortage before Christmas

By Kathryn Riddell

HGV driving tests will become more relaxed in order to help tackle the lorry driver shortage in the UK.

Up to 50,000 more HGV driving tests will be made available each year as the Government works to streamline the testing process.

HGV driving tests will be overhauled, meaning drivers will only need to take one test to drive both a rigid and articulated lorry, rather than having to take two separate tests, which would usually be spaced three weeks apart.

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This will make around 20,000 more HGV driving tests available every year and mean drivers can gain their licence and enter the industry more quickly.

Tests will also be made shorter by removing the ‘reversing exercise’ element – and for vehicles with trailers, the ‘uncoupling and recoupling’ exercise – and having it tested separately by a third party.

This part of the test is carried out off the road on a manoeuvring area and takes a significant amount of time. Testing such manoeuvres separately will free up examiner time, the Government claims, meaning they can carry out another full test every day.

The current lack of lorry drivers is part of the reason why some shops have seen a shortage of supplies over the past few weeks.

Car drivers will also no longer need to take another test to tow a trailer or caravan, allowing roughly 30,000 more HGV driving tests to be conducted every year.

This new legislation is changing previous EU regulations which the UK is no longer obliged to use after Brexit.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "From Inverness to St Ives, HGV drivers are helping to keep the country running, and have been throughout the pandemic. The shortage of drivers is a global problem, but we’ve been taking action here in the UK to help industry leaders attract drivers and build a more resilient sector.

"We’ve already delivered 50% more tests than were available before the pandemic, but today’s additional measures will deliver up to 50,000 more a year, helping more and more people to kickstart their career as a well-paid HGV driver."

The changes follow a public consultation over the summer on how to tackle the lorry driver shortage currently affecting countries around the world.

The standard of driving required to drive an HGV will not be affected, the Government claims, with road safety continuing to be of 'paramount importance'.

All car drivers will also still be encouraged to undertake training to tow trailers and caravans.

The driver shortage has been affecting countries across Europe and also the United States, with prospective drivers unable to take tests during the pandemic.

About 14,000 European drivers had left the UK by June 2020 and only 600 had returned a year later after the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December, 2020.

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