It has been revealed that HGV drivers are having to wait three months for their licence test at two-in-three of the UK’s testing centres.
The findings show that 62% of the testing centres have a minimum of 11 weeks on their waiting list, which highlights that the shortage of lorry drivers will not be resolved soon.
The news comes after Driver Hire Training filed a Freedom of Information request to find that the average waiting time in the UK to carry out an HGV driving test is more than two months.
And three testing centres have waiting times of more than 24 weeks – they are in Scotland: Aberdeen South, Lerwick and Machrihanish.
However, there are seven test centres with a waiting time of just one week and they are Carlisle, Chelmsford, Lincoln, Plymouth, Rookley on the Isle of Wight, Sheffield, and Taunton.
HGV driving test delays
The firm’s John Keelan-Edwards said that the main reason for HGV driving test delays is down to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact.
He explained: “For a large part of last year, social distancing measures meant that no testing or in-vehicle training could take place, and this caused a backlog.
“The RHA suggests that there were 30,000 HGV driving test slots cancelled last year.”
He added that there are also challenges in recruiting driving test examiners with candidates in short supply.
News of the driving test delays come as the government reveals that it is looking to make changes to the regulations from this autumn.
Rules for HGV driving tests
Mr Keelan-Edwards said: “Though the government is changing rules for HGV driving tests to help eager drivers pass their exams, the waiting list for exams is up to 24 weeks in some areas as coronavirus is adding pressure still to examiners.
“However, it’s great to start seeing those waiting times come down in some places.”
He also said that there is a positive to take from the pandemic and the shortage of HGV driver – and that’s the growing appreciation that the public have for skilled commercial drivers and understanding more just how finely tuned the country’s supply chain is.
Renew HGV driving licence
However, one angry trucker says he has not been able to renew his HGV driving licence that expired a year ago, despite many calls to the DVLA.
The irate trucker called the radio station LBC to say he had been making repeated calls to the DVLA to have his licence renewed.
He told listeners: “They are wanting Europeans to come and do our driving when we have people in this country who are waiting to drive, waiting to do this and they can’t. It takes forever.”
Another HGV driver called the station to say that they had stopped calling the DVLA because ‘no one answers’.
Backlog of 54,000 HGV applications
The DVLA says it cannot comment on individual cases but revealed they are tackling a backlog of 54,000 HGV applications that have built up.
Most of these applications are for licence renewals and the DVLA says that drivers can continue driving as they wait for their renewal to arrive.
The issue for HGV drivers, as one trucker told LBC, is that the rules only enable them to drive a vehicle in the UK – but not in Europe.