Car drivers could be given the right to get behind the wheel of large vans and lorries up to 7.5 tonnes as part of a range of government proposals aimed at tackling the skills shortages in the logistics industry.
Other measured mooted in a DfT Call for Evidence paper published today (5 August) include creating a formal register of HGV driving instructors, publishing pass rates for instructors, and allowing mechanics to drive HGVs for repair purposes.
Launching the document, the DfT said respondents’ views will also be used to help inform the government on how some EU regulations could be removed in the UK, post Brexit.
Views will also be sought on reintroducing other lost so-called ‘grandfather rights’ in the UK.
The DfT added: “Questions around reintroducing grandfather rights explore whether the UK should allow those who hold a normal car driving licence to drive certain larger vans or smaller lorries up to 7.5 tonnes.
“Prior to 1 January 1997, people who passed their driving test for a normal car also obtained the right to drive heavier, larger vehicles up to 8.25 tonnes weight and minibuses – these entitlements were removed by the EU.”
It added that government is keen to receive views from a wide range of stakeholders and said any changes would ensure road safety by, for example, placing restrictions based on age or driving experience.
Transport Minister Karl McCartney said: “Our country has a robust supply chain and our ongoing and unprecedented support for the haulage sector means that the number of HGV drivers is stabilising.
“We continue looking for ways to make it easier and quicker to kickstart a rewarding career in logistics.
"That’s why we’re asking people for their views on how we could streamline the licensing process and remove any potential barriers – making the most of our post-Brexit freedoms.”
The move is part of wider government efforts to tackle the HGV driver shortage in the UK, which has seen 11,000 HGV driver training places made available through the Skills Bootcamps, increasing the availability of HGV driver tests and investing £52.5m in improvements in roadside facilities and lorry parking.
DfT said that new HGV drivers are taking and passing their driving test in “record numbers”.
It said that between March 2022 and May 2022, the DVSA carried out 29,384 HGV tests – 54% more than the corresponding period in 2019 before the pandemic.