An extra 14 vocational driving examiners will be recruited by the DVSA to help deal with the current HGV driver crisis.
The new examiners will be made up of external candidates and current DVSA employees.
This is part of the government’s move to tackle the HGV driver shortfall in England and Wales and will boost the availability of vocational HGV driving tests.
The DVSA says this is a move to develop its maximum testing capacity and adds that the agency is also considering whether to streamline the process for HGV drivers to gain their licence.
Boost in truck test availability
With more examiners, there will be a big boost in truck test availability with test numbers rising from a pre-Covid 2,000 tests per week to 3,000 tests a week now.
The chief executive of the DVSA, Loveday Ryder, said: “We recognise the haulage industry keeps the wheels of our economy turning and have listened to its concerns about the current lorry driver shortage.
“We have responded by doing all we can to support the industry in tackling this issue through increasing lorry driver testing.”
He added: “This includes our latest campaign to recruit more vocational examiners so we can maximise our lorry testing capacity.”
HGV driver shortage
Along with the HGV driver shortage, the Road Haulage Association says the UK is short of 100,000 drivers currently, demand is also increasing across the country’s supply chains.
That is partly down to the ‘Pingdemic’ that is seeing lots of lorry drivers and supply chain staff being told to isolate at home under Covid rules.
Also, there has been no driver training and testing for at least 12 months with a massive backlog of tests now building up.
‘HGV drivers provide a vital service’
The roads minister Baroness Vere said: “Our HGV drivers provide a vital service delivering food, medicine and other vital goods to where they are needed. That’s why we’re committed to working with the industry to address the shortage of drivers and have unveiled a package of robust measures.
“Increasing the DVSA’s testing capacity is a crucial part of this plan, and I’d encourage anyone with the right experience to apply for a role – helping keep our country moving.”
Operators warned over HGV driver standards
Meanwhile, operators are being warned to retain and engage with their driving staff, so they do not fail to live up to basic standards.
The warning comes in the latest report from the Traffic Commissioners, who acknowledge the challenges facing hauliers with a shortage of HGV drivers.
However, along with hauliers struggling to deliver goods, they also highlight the impact on safety standards.
The report says: “The obvious risk is that operators may be tempted to retain drivers even after retraining and disciplinary processes have failed to impart the standards expected of a professional driver.”