DVSA launches consultation on lorry driver shortages

On 20 July, the government wrote to the logistics industry outlining a package of measures to help address the current shortage of lorry drivers. This included a consultation on proposed changes to the current requirements to obtain a vocational driving licence, for category C and D tests and all derivatives.
DVSA launches consultation on lorry driver shortages

The measures are designed to help get new lorry drivers get up and running as quickly as possible, with the need being described by DVSA as being crucial in ‘helping our nation build back better’.

However, the National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP), and colleagues across the training industry, have expressed concern over proposals to remove the need for an additional test for B+E entitlement. NASP has written to ministers to set out the industry’s concerns about the impact such changes could have on safety and standards, as well the financial impact on trainers engaged in B+E delivery.

You can read the full correspondence between NASP and the Government here.

What is being consulted on

The measures being consulted on are proposed changes to the current requirements to obtain a vocational driving licence, including:

  • allowing drivers to take one test to drive both a rigid and articulated lorry, rather than having to pass a test in a rigid lorry first, and then another in an articulated lorry
  • allowing drivers who want to use a bus or coach to tow a trailer to take one test with a trailer, rather than having to pass a test without a trailer first
  • allowing the off-road manoeuvres part of the test to be assessed by the driver training industry
  • allowing car drivers to tow a trailer without having to take another test

DVSA are interested to hear your views on the proposals and if you would welcome the suggested changes.

The consultation will last for 4 weeks and end at 11:59pm on 7 September 2021. You can read the consultation document and have your say on the

GOV.UK consultation page

You can read the full email announcing the consultation here

The DIA view

Howard Redwood, DIA's Head of Road Safety, gives his thoughts on the measures.

There are some advantages to the C+E test being the overarching test for LGV, but when the driver downgrades to Cat C rigid there needs to be a vocational driver familiarity programme. When trained in C+E, just because a C or C1 is shorter does not make it necessarily easier to drive, because the steering aspect ratios are completely different which hampers turning and reversing. Road positioning can also be slightly different in a rigid compared to any articulated vehicle due to the fifth wheel mechanism being absent.

However, the proposal to allow car drivers to tow trailers with no testing (which will undoubtedly lead to a drop in training) is extremely worrying.  This area of training and testing is already a contentious one. In my opinion, rather than doing away with a requirement for testing, we should be looking for it to better monitored/audited/regulated (call it what you will) by the training industry, perhaps using a CBT type programme, where the certificate holder can re-take the CBT after two years, or take the vocational test within those two years to alleviate the cost burden of retakes. Overall it should be tested by properly qualified vocational examiners. This is the safest way for all road users.

There will be a lot more meat to chew on in the actual consultation questionnaire (such as auto/manual interchanged licences) I’m sure, so all trainers should have a look and have their say as there’s some important changes being proposed here.

2 thoughts on “DVSA launches consultation on lorry driver shortages”

  1. Steve Feldon

    1) What about removing the need for a CPC course for every single candidate. May be this should only be compulsory for owner operator drivers
    2) What about reinstating HGV entitlement to those drivers who, many years ago,
    A) PAID FOR TRAINING AT CONSIDERABLE COST TO THEMSELVES and,
    B) WHIST STILL BEING RELATIVELY HEALTHY (but not using HGV entitlement as a source of income) DID NOT KEEP UP WITH DVSA REQUIREMENTS FOR A MEDICAL.
    3) What about sacking those people in the DVSA “IVORY TOWERS” who have mis-managed driving tests for many years culminating in the shambolic mis-management of COVID.

  2. As an ADI specializing in B+E since 1999 I am alarmed by the proposal to abandon the B+E test. I know my pass rate is in the low 90% and as you would expect fluctuates a bit up and down. However when you read that of 3,000 vocational tests carried out resulted in only 1500 passes it begs the question are the candidates being properly prepared. I would dearly like to see the statistics for the failures of vocational tests to understand why the failures occur. I appreciate that large training organisations have to fit candidates into packages pass or fail. Whereas I can assess and train to test standard because I have only one vehicle to pay for and no employees. If as may be the case that a high incidence of failure results from the the maneuvers and or uncoupling and recoupling exercise then it would make sense to have a CBT type pre test arrangement for these aspects but how to police this?. Leaving the actual drive part of the test to the vocational examiners. I believe it would be disastrous to abandon The B+E test. If training becomes voluntary then it won’t happen in the most part, there must as a very minimum be some degree of compulsion to take mandatory training before allowing a newly fledged group B driver onto the road with up to seven tons of articulated vehicle.

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