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Rising HGV driver numbers ease crisis

A recent surge in HGV tests by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and drivers re-entering the profession, has added over 50,000 to the number of qualified HGV drivers, raising hopes that the driver shortage crisis might be subsiding.

While there were 49,000 fewer HGV drivers in the workforce in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, a surge in testing by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) means that 27,144 HGV vocational tests were undertaken in the last quarter of 2021, representing a 53.5% increase compared with the same period in 2019.

Office of National Statistics (ONS) data released last week showed a gain in the number of drivers under 45 years of age, with under 45s now representing 37% of HGV drivers compared with 33.6% two years ago, and in the 34-39 age bracket, there are now more than 30,000 drivers compared with about 25,000 two years ago.

Elizabeth de Jong, director of policy at Logistics UK, said: “The new ONS data shows that attracting new entrants to the profession, and ensuring sufficient tests are available, are key to the resilience of the logistics sector.

Critics have previously pointed out that the long waiting time to take a vocational HGV test in Great Britain has been a key contributor to the driver shortage crisis, but it does now appear that the DVSA is making progress in catching up on the testing backlog, which grew out of restrictions imposed under the Covid-19 pandemic.

The marked rise in newly tested drivers came in addition to a further 30,000 drivers that entered or re-entered the profession in the third quarter of last year, according to the quarterly ONS statistics.

Hopes are rising that we may have reached a turning point in the UK’s HGV driver shortage crisis, but immediate action is needed to improve employment conditions, including access to quality, secure HGV parking facilities across the UK, to prevent the continued churn of HGV drivers due to the disillusionment with the poor-quality working environment.

We work with selected haulage partners, at strategic locations across the UK, to give us access to the widest pool of equipment and driver resource, for container movements, international and domestic haulage.