The number of HGV driving licence tests taken and passed surged in the year to 31 March 2016.

Category C tests increased by 29% to 45,513 (2015: 35,303). There was a corresponding increase in passes, up 30% to 24,502 (18,867), equivalent to a pass rate of 53.8%.

At the heavy end, category C+E tests were up by more than a quarter (26%) at 19,614 (15,582). Here there were 10,973 passes, 20% higher than the previous year (8,764), which meant the pass rate was 55.9%.

However, female candidates remain thin on the ground with 2,980 tests taken (categories combined) in 2015 and 1,558 passed. This represents a slight increase on 2015’s figures.

Positive news but some way to go

Sally Gilson, FTA skills policy development manager, said: “The latest figures are positive news for the industry and show the message has been heard that we need more HGV drivers.

“However, we must not get complacent: we still need more drivers and the current numbers will help replace the drivers retiring each year,” she said.

“Work still needs to be done to promote the sector and to ensure that those paying to take their tests are receiving quality training that will help to increase the
first-time pass rate so we don’t lose any potential drivers,” Gilson added.

Long return

The latest combined total of 65,127 tests taken and 35,475 passes come after a small year-on-year increase in 2015 when 50,885 tests (categories combined) were taken, which was 13% up on 2014’s 44,937 tests.

However the industry remains behind where it was a decade ago, when in 2005/06, it could rely on 86,826 tests and 39,220 passes (categories combined) to help meet its requirement for HGV drivers .

The test and pass figures are for all tests taken,  and include people holding a licence for personal rather than purely professional use.