Following the recent changes made to the HGV Driving Test at the end of last year, experts Driver Hire, have reflected on what these could mean for the logistics industry as a whole.
Due to a shortage of drivers in 2021, the government have implemented a series of changes to simplify the process of joining the industry. Among these measures are the removal of the B+E (car or small van plus trailer) test and more significantly, the removal of ‘staged’ testing from the HGV driver test. This means that there is no longer a requirement for drivers to pass a test in a Category C (rigid) vehicle before they take their C+E (artic) test.
Safety is quite rightly the number one priority for responsible fleet managers, so regardless of the testing regime it’s important for businesses to continue to place high importance on risk management.
Richard Owen-Hughes, Marketing Director at Driver Hire Training, had this to say. “Removing stage testing may well be a positive move, providing all safety concerns are met. It is important that we get more people entering the industry and if this makes it easier to achieve, then it is definitely welcomed. However, it is also important that people choose their training provider carefully.”
Owen-Hughes continues, “All the elements that used to be part of the final C+E test should still be properly instructed and checked during the driver’s training, if they do choose to fast track straight to a C+E licence rather than qualifying to drive a Category C vehicle first. However, it is still possible to take the test the staged way, if the student prefers, with some trainers suggesting this is the approach they still want to take.
Our experience in talking to the training partners we work with is that they all take the safety aspect of what they do extremely seriously and as long as that is replicated across the industry, either system should be able to be implemented without too much trouble.”
Whether it is as a result of the changes to the testing process or just a general improvement, the intense pressure to hire drivers towards the end of last year is easing.
Recent figures have suggested that the total number of HGV drivers rose in the second part of 2021, introducing around 5,000 new drivers in the under-35 age category. However, experts are calling for more people to enter the logistics industry and further work to be done to attract them.
“There’s definitely more work to be done in this area and the government needs to ensure that there are enough testing slots available to meet demand as it’s not clear that we have reached that point. But the bigger question for the logistics industry remains, how to encourage more people to choose this as a career. There’s no simple answer to that question but everyone has a role to play.” Owen-Hughes concludes.
A full podcast from experts at Driver Hire on the topic can be found here: https://thedriverhirepodcast.co.uk/podcast/changes-to-the-hgv-driving-test/