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Driver shortages need a longer term fix

08 July 2021

Following the UK Government's announcement of a temporary extension to lorry drivers' working hours as the driver shortage takes hold, DWF's regulatory lawyer and road transport specialist, Vikki Woodfine comments.

Vikki, a Partner and Head of Road Transport and Logistics at DWF, said: "In my view, relaxing driver’s hours even temporarily undermines the importance of drivers hours rules, which are enforced so strictly in the name of road safety. 

"In extreme cases, extended hours could even leave drivers and their employers open to the risk of prosecution in the event of an accident, as falling asleep would be deemed at least careless and driving whilst knowingly tired is often considered dangerous driving. 

"The temporary extension in working hours also does little to address the widespread shortage of drivers since an extra hour will only result in an extra 56 miles per day at an absolute maximum.

"Many of our road transport sector clients have been impacted by a loss of foreign drivers post Brexit. It's unfortunate that the Government has not recognised HGV driving in its "Standard occupation classification code", meaning that EU HGV drivers cannot apply under the skilled worker visa scheme, despite the labour shortage and this being skilled/professional work. 

"The driver shortage is becoming even more acute as time ticks on, with many businesses reporting not being able to deliver stock on time. But driver shortages and an ageing driver population in the UK is not a new issue and we need to look at longer term solutions rather than a temporary fix. 

"A greater focus on investment in training and on making driving a more desirable career among younger drivers could be the solution. As could reducing the cost barriers of entering the profession for prospective drivers seeking to gain their licence."

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