Safety fears as lorry tests relaxed to cope with demand after Brexit and Covid

Newsnight: Shane Brennan on issues with shortage of lorry drivers

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The Government announced this week that HGV drivers will only need to pass one test, rather than two, in a bid to save the industry from collapse. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has already worked to ensure almost 1,500 HGV drivers pass their test every week.

But under new rules, drivers would need to take one test to drive both an articulated and rigid lorry.

This would streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and would increase lorry test appointment availability.

Off-road manoeuvres are set to be removed from the official test.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps praised the move, saying it would help bounce the industry back after the pandemic.

He said: “I want to thank all those in the road haulage industry who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic to provide such a vital service.

“I understand the challenges faced by drivers and operators right now and while longer-term solutions must be led first and foremost by industry leaders, today we are saying this government is here to help.

“This set of measures will kickstart that help, easing pressure on the sector as we work together to attract new drivers, improve conditions and ensure the industry’s future is a prosperous one.”

Despite the Government’s optimism, many campaigners are concerned that it could lead to more accidents on the road.

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While ministers insist that road safety remains “of paramount importance”, groups like Best for Britain criticised the plans. 

They accused the Government of “sticking plaster solutions which could make roads more dangerous for all drivers”.

It is believed that there is a shortfall of at least 60,000 HGV drivers in the UK. 

In addition to many EU drivers shunning the UK, thousands of tests were cancelled because of the Covid pandemic.

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