The number of people taking HGV category C and C+E driving tests has fallen 11% year-on-year, and stands almost a quarter lower than a decade ago.

After three years of improving fortunes for the transport sector, there were 58,018 tests taken in the year to 31 March 2017, compared with 65,127 the previous year.

Tests at category C and C+E were on an upward trajectory, since reaching a low of 43,589 in the year to 31 March 2013.

The pass rate through this rocky period remained approximately 50% across both categories.

However, a decade ago (2006/07), 75,975 category C and C+E tests were taken. This represents a decrease of 24% from 2007 to date.

In the year to 31 March 2017, separate DVSA figures show 38,320 driver qualification cards were issued for completion of initial qualification required to drive professionally. However, these figures also include those in the coach and bus industry.

HGV driving licence

RHA deputy policy director Colin Snape said while last year’s figures had been strong, he was not surprised by this year’s drop, or the overall story of an industry struggling to recruit “not just people, but the right people”.

Snape said that with the new apprenticeship funding that came into force in May, some employers may have held off recruiting, which may have contributed to this year’s fall.

A spokesman for the RHA added that the latest data underlined the need for operators to retain drivers and for the industry and customers to show more respect for drivers and make sure they are treated well.

Tests and passes, year to 31 March
Category C

Tests taken: 40,423

Tests passed: 21,370

Pass rate: 52.9%

Category C+E

Tests taken: 17,595

Tests passed: 9,610

Pass rate: 54.6%