According to the RHA (Road Haulage Association), the driver shortage is currently hitting crisis level in the UK, with demand increasing across supply chains as the country recovers from Covid-19. The RHA has called on Government to urgently introduce a range of measures to help recruit and train drivers.
The shortage in HGV drivers is also identified as one of the top challenges for the commercial fleet industry in a new whitepaper from Shell and Frost and Sullivan, Navigating Roadblocks in the Long-Haul Road Freight Industry, which sheds light on the status of the industry as the world recovers from the pandemic.
Frost and Sullivan reports the value of the global road freight industry stood at $3.1 trillion (£2.2tn) in 2020, with estimates suggesting a decline of between 15% and 25%, dependent on the market, as a result of Covid-19. However, as the economy improves, it is forecasting freight revenues will grow by an average of 4.3% annually from 2020 to 2025.
“Increasing demand across supply chains and the reopening of nonessential retail outlets and parts of the hospitality sector is making the situation even worse,” argues RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.
The pandemic has also resulted in the loss of about 12 months of driver training and testing, while online retail averaged 28.1% of retail sales in 2020, up from 19.2% in 2019.
In order to cope with the situation, it has been established that HGV drivers can increase their daily driving limits from nine to 10 hours or change weekly rest patterns on Monday. The DfT said that the relaxation of the rules reflects the “exceptional circumstances” stemming from a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers causing “acute supply chain pressures”, but road safety associations and safety experts do not at all agree with the measure and think the pressure is put on HGV drivers, who carry its burden.