Government proposals to allow car drivers to operate 7.5 tonne trucks, to help tackle the UK's severe commercial driver shortage, have been given a cautious greeting by the logistics industry this week.

Under the proposals, revealed last week in a DfT Call for Evidence paper, car drivers could be given the right to get behind the wheel of large vans and lorries up to 7.5 tonnes. Other measures include creating a formal register of HGV driving instructors, publishing pass rates for instructors, and allowing mechanics to drive HGVs for repair purposes.

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.

Responding to the proposals this week, Chris Yarsley, Logistics UK’s road freight regulation policy manager, welcomed the review, adding: “Members have reported particular difficulties in recruiting drivers for vehicles up to 7.5t since the requirement for an additional test came into force in 1997.”

However Yarsley warned: “The safety of all road users must remain a top priority and Logistics UK will engage with this call for evidence to ensure there is no increased risk to road safety.

Logistics UK also welcomed the proposals to create a formal register of instructors and publishing pass rates, but Yarsley warned that the initiatives “must not place additional burden on industry.”

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The association said it will also be commenting on the impact of the increased weight of electric and hydrogen powered vehicles in its response.

Yarsley said: “Ahead of this call for evidence, Logistics UK highlighted to government that the zero-tailpipe emission fleet will be heavier than petrol and diesel vehicles, meaning weight thresholds – which are a quarter of a century old – will need to be reviewed to maintain fleet efficiency. Logistics UK will continue to communicate with government on this, and will include it within its response.”

Sally Gilson, RHA policy lead for skills, said there was already some confusion around the proposals, pointing to reports that had mistakenly claimed car drivers will be able to drive 44 tonne trucks without a test.

Referring to the proposal to allow car drivers to operate vehicles up to 7.5 tonne, she added: “This is an entitlement that anyone who passed their test before 1997 already has on their licence."

But she noted: “If anyone want to drive a C1/D1 vehicle commercially, they will still require a Driver CPC – this is not part of the consultation.”