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Changes to tackle lorry driver shortage welcomed

Proposals have been made to change the HGV testing system in a bid to tackle a shortage of lorry drivers.

The UK government has announced plans to encourage more new drivers on to the road by releasing up to 50,000 HGV test slots.

Measures outlined by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to streamline HGV tests include car drivers no longer needing to take another test to tow a trailer or caravan, shorter HGV tests and making it quicker to get a licence to drive an articulated vehicle.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has voiced concern that changes like removing the reversing manoeuvre from the test is a retrograde step when it comes to safety.

Brian Kenny, from the RHA, said: “According to HSE, there’s about seven people knocked down and killed in yards each year with vehicles reversing.

“I think it is a step back. More than one person is one too many, as far as we’re concerned.

“Going forward on the roads should be assessed and should be tested. It’s equally important to test properly how an individual reverses and manoeuvres off the road.”

But Mr Shapps insisted: “These changes will not change the standard of driving required to drive an HGV, with road safety continuing to be of paramount importance.”

The amendments, which have still to be approved by parliament, are part of a plan to address widespread supply chain issues caused by a driver shortage and have been welcomed by Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell.

He said: “The HGV driver shortage is a long-standing challenge facing countries across the world, and certainly not a new issue in my constituency.

“However, these shortages have been made more acute by the Covid-19 pandemic, with driver testing being suspended for large parts of the last year.

“These tests are now back up and running and the government has already increased capacity, but we need to go further to help ensure there are enough drivers to get goods transported around the country and further afield.

“That’s why I welcome the measures the Government has announced, particularly ahead of Christmas, so I will be keeping up the pressure on government to do all it reasonably can to deal with short-term HGV driver shortages in the run up to the festive season.”



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