Don't get carried away, but the number of drivers taking and passing HGV tests nudged upwards in the year to March 2014.

That's welcome, but the long-term trend, as documented by, remains one of decline.

Yes, in the year to March 2014, 44,937 category C+E and category C tests were taken, a 3% increase on 43,589 in the previous year. Of these 23,905 were passed, 5.3% up on 22,692 last year and representing a test pass rate of just over half.

However, even this slight gain still leaves the combined tests taken and tests passed rates at less than half the level they were five years ago. In 2008/09 86,826 tests were taken (C+E and category C), and 39,220 were passed.

Regular readers of The Hub will also know that there's cause for concern from within the Driver CPC indicators we have to hand.

While much of the focus is on how many of the long-term professional drivers will complete their mandatory periodic training by September, it is the relative dearth of new entrants within the system that should cause most alarm.

Since 2008/09 you've needed to undertake an Inital Driver CPC as part of your licence test to drive as a professional bus/coach or HGV driver. As of May this year, 78,835 initial qualifications have been completed.

That's approaching 16,000 professionals a year but due to the fact LGV and PCV licence types aren't split out, and based on what we know in terms of employment, at least a quarter of that annual figure is likely new bus and coach drivers.

Given the road transport industry's "older workforce", which is above that of the employment sector UK, that's likely fewer then 12,000 recruits a year. Back in 2012, SfL warned that around 9,600 new LGV drivers a year would be required simply to meet the gap left by those retiring from the industry. That's before any serious growth or even the knock-on effect of this year's Driver CPC deadline (for long-term drivers) is factored in.