The new HGV driving test requirements are a "panicked" reaction to a driver shortage created by the government's policy on Brexit, warns parcel delivery service ParcelHero this week.

The criticism follows a recent government announcement that the rigid and articulated HGV driving tests will be combined in an effort to speed up HGV driver training to tackle the UK driver shortage.

"This lowering of standards is a knee-jerk reaction to the driver shortage caused by Brexit," said David Jinks, head of ParcelHero's consumer research. He added: "In an effort to get more truck drivers on the road, the government has announced plans to merge the separate tests for driving rigid and articulated trucks, and axe reversing exercises and uncoupling and recoupling from the main test.

"To free up testers, it will also scrap the need for car drivers to take a separate test to tow a large trailer or caravan. These are potentially dangerous and short-sighted reactions to the truck driver shortages created by Brexit," Jinks added.

The government claims 50,000 more HGV tests will be made available because of the changes. However, ParcelHero is warning it will lower driver testing standards, below that of the EU.

Jinks said: "Merging the separate rigid and articulated tests cuts too many corners. The gap between obtaining a level C licence for driving a standard truck and level C+E for driving an artic existed for a reason: to ensure drivers gained experience before mastering an articulated truck."

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He described the government decision to drop the reversing exercise and the coupling and uncoupling elements of the main test along with outsourcing to third party testers as a "jaw-dropping compromise" and warned that the move to drop the separate test for car drivers towing trailers or caravan, will also make the UK's roads more dangerous.

He added: "After most 'non-skilled' EU citizens returned to their home countries in the wake of the Brexit vote, we warned the government of a shortfall of up to 100,000 drivers. Those warnings fell on deaf ears. Combined with the government’s dogmatic refusal to allow EU-based drivers to return under temporary skilled-worker permits, the UK’s entire supply chain is consequently on the verge of a major crisis."

Jinks said it is "astonishing" that the government is "still flying the Brexit flag in the face of this self-induced chaos. It proudly attributed this new slashing of testing standards to Brexit. Launching the testing changes, it said: 'This new legislation is changing previous EU regulations which the UK is no longer obliged to use.'

"Abandoning higher testing requirements is not something to boast about, reinforcing fears that the UK is starting on a 'race to the bottom' to become the de-regulated, free market capital of Europe. This is yet another problem that Brexit has created for British importers and exporters."