Could Teenagers Plug Delivery Driver Gap?

Sat 14th May 2022

The Government is considering a change in the law which could allow younger drivers to drive heavy goods vehicles to solve a chronic shortage of drivers.

The 25-year old law was introduced by the European Union in 1997 and effectively bans newly qualified drivers from operating large lorries, haulage vehicles and even some large vans.

But with the UK no longer a member of the EU, transport industry executives are proposing that that rule be changed to solve a crisis which now sees a gap of 100,000 lorry drivers.

The idea was proposed by work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey, to relax the law prohibiting anyone 21 or under from driving vehicles weighing 3,500kg upwards. The law is so strict that even if you are over 21 or have two years driving experience, you cannot get paid to drive these larger vehicles unless you have cleared a medical from your GP or have taken extra driving tests.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps would have to sign-off on the change in the law, but some road safety groups are concerned that inexperienced drivers could potentially be behind the wheel of a very large vehicle.

“Reinstating the licence rights previously held by drivers before 1997 is certainly the fastest and easiest way the government can try to address the van and lorry driver shortage,” said Edmund King, President of the AA.

“However, reputable businesses will know that handing over the keys of a seven-tonne lorry to a newly qualified driver is not as simple as it sounds.

“Significant and meaningful training will still be required to ensure road safety standards don’t fall.

“Small trucks are fitted with more safety equipment than ever before, making them simpler to drive compared to those from 25 years ago, but driving one is still a big responsibility and safety shouldn’t be compromised.”