HGV driver crisis

UK’s HGV Driver Crisis Remains Chronic 

5 August 2022

There is no denying the issues that have been caused by the HGV driver shortage. From empty supermarket shelves to deserted petrol stations and paralysed sites waiting endlessly for materials that never come, the HGV driver crisis tentacles have been felt all up and down the country. 

Ever since Brexit came into effect on the 31st of January 2020, the UK’s departure from the EU has signalled a change for the Heavy Goods Transport industry on both a national as well as international levels, the effects of which are far-reaching and felt throughout the entire construction industry. 

While many in the Government and industry have worked hard to address the key issues which have affected the recruitment of HGV drivers in the past, the issue remains and there are simply not enough HGV drivers to meet delivery and distribution demands.  

The shortage of HGV drivers is hitting all industries, including manufacturing, food production and distribution, material deliveries and, of course, the construction industry.  

But what is actually being done about it? 

Well, the UK’s Department for Transport has announced measures aimed at tackling shortages, which include streamlining the process for new drivers to obtain HGV licences, increasing driving tests, and temporarily relaxing driving hours rules. 

While the number of HGV drivers in employment is estimated to have fallen by 30,300 in the first quarter of 2022, this is less of a reduction than we had been seeing in the last couple of quarters of 2021.  

Meanwhile, improved throughputs at DVSA testing facilities have shown that 26,388 practical HGV tests were conducted in Q1 2022, an increase of 43% compared with the same period in 2019. March 2022 saw a record 10,481 tests undertaken, with a 60% pass rate.  

HGV driver wages have also increased to retain existing staff and attract new drivers, with advertised salaries for those qualified to drive the heaviest vehicles increasing by an average of 25% in Q1 2022 compared with a year ago, with a driver’s median wage coming in at just below £29,000. 

However, one key strategy that a couple of firms have decided to turn to is trying to appeal to a female demographic. While there are currently 315,000 registered truck drivers in the UK, only 2,200 of them are female, and many in the industry believe this to be one of the solutions to tackling this labour shortage. 

Ever since the introduction of the Equal Rights Act in 2010, women’s numbers in the transport industry have been slowly but steadily increasing, and now that Britain’s all but closed off to a migrant workforce, women are one of the last remaining hopes for solving this crisis.  

However, many of the women who already work in the industry have started documenting their experiences on social media, including posting videos of what an average day on the road looks like, the kind of work they do and the goods they transport, as well as the conditions to which they are subject while on the road. Many hope that this will inspire and motivate more women from all around the country to consider a new career in HGV driving. 

What does this mean for the Construction and the Hire industries? 

In a nutshell, delivery of hire equipment such as large plant items, welfare units and any piece of kit that requires transportation on an HGV is severely affected, leading to both delivery and production delays.  

Now throw huge fuel hikes into the mix with this almost perfect storm of distribution mayhem and you have, well… a perfect storm. 

To counter this, PAL Hire clients are advised to book in advance for their projects. Although by booking with PAL Hire you will be benefiting from the UK’s largest network of equipment hire depots, the more notice given for hire bookings the more you enable your equipment hire provider to maximise the search for the right equipment for your project. 

So, start having those quoting conversations now and, ideally, plan your projects that are due to start in the next quarter at least a couple of months in advance. If you don’t, you might just end up with a massive headache when critical equipment still can’t be delivered to your site.