UK driver crisis intensifies

The British trucker shortage is at a crisis as demand rises, but few apply because high costs, low wages and legal liability, combine with a growing mass of regulations dissuading the old and young from this blighted sector.

Difficulties recruiting heavy good vehicle drivers increased throughout last year and have continue into 2015, with 60 per cent of shippers and freight transport operators expecting shortages, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

British transport and distribution labour market overall remains well supplied with labour, but FTA survey respondents report they are unable to recruit HGV drivers

The FTA campaign to “Solve the Driver Crisis” culminated in a one-day Industry Summit in Coventry, which was “inundated” with applications to attend, with more than 700 delegates arriving to share their experiences consider and solutions.

There are big barriers to entry, first there is the cost of the heavy goods vehicle driving licence for GBP3,000 (US$4,500), and that’s after you pay for the course of training.

“We’re running under almost two sets of rules, the tachograph driving rules regulating hours of service and the EU working time directive, which provides for a 48-hour week and drivers have to conform to both” said Chester’s Farrall Transport chairman Mike Farrall.

“Rest and break times are different between the two regulations and you have to comply with both,” he told Newark’s Journal of Commerce.

“The EU has also introduced a Driver Certificate of Competence or CPC training requirements that raised the cost of obtaining and keeping an HVG licence, and British drivers are required to take CPC training annually at a cost of GBP300 a year,” Mr Farrell explained.

FTA findings suggest that the problem is likely to worsen. Respondents indicated in the January 2015 survey that nine per cent of their HGV drivers are aged over 60 and a further 24 per cent are aged between 55 and 60. Overall, 72 per cent of HGV drivers were 45 years of age or older.

“This indicates that the issue of driver recruitment is a long-term challenge with an ageing driver population enhancing the risk of driver shortages,” the FTA said.

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Source: Asian Shipper News