West of England supermarket shelves have been running empty but lacklustre Government steps to tackle a shortage of HGV drivers are simply “short term and dangerous”, according to Labour Metro Mayor Dan Norris.
Responding to an open letter from Government Ministers to the road haulage industry, the Metro Mayor said the measures outlined are simply not enough to address the scale of the crisis and could put lives at risk with exhausted drivers who have passed diluted tests driving on Britain’s roads.
It is estimated that there is a shortage of between 76,000 to 90,000 drivers. The pandemic has meant 30,000 fewer HGV drivers taking tests on the previous year. But the problem has been made worse by Brexit. The UK is now a less attractive location for overseas drivers, due to increased bureaucracy at UK borders.
The Government have already increased the legal working hours of HGV drivers in response to the shortage, to the dismay of industry representatives. Now they have also announced changes to driving tests to “speed up recruitment”, including removing off-road manoeuvres and rigid lorry practical tests from the testing obligations for new drivers.
Mayor Dan Norris said “The government have offered short-term solutions which risk compromising safety. I don’t want tired drivers on our roads who have passed less demanding tests. We need gold standards on British roads.”
There are also fears the shortage of food and other goods could lead to another ruined Christmas for British families. “That’s why we need action now” says Mr Norris.