The government hopes to make up to 50,000 more HGV driving tests available each year by streamlining the testing process in an effort to tackle the ongoing driver shortage.
According to the Department for Transport, 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 that are spaced three weeks apart. It is hoped 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, meaning they can carry out another full test every day.
The other proposal is that car drivers will 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.
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 these 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 Department for Transport added that the standard of driving required to drive an HGV will not be affected, with road safety continuing to be of paramount importance and that any driver who does not demonstrate utmost competence will not be granted a licence. All car drivers will also still be encouraged to undertake training to tow trailers and caravans.