The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced plans to take on more HGV examiners in a bid to reduce lorry driver shortages. The shortfall in driver numbers has made national news headlines of late, with industry body Logistics UK calling on the government to take action.

According to the lobby group and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the issue has arisen due to the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit affecting the number of drivers available. Now, with rising demand for goods, lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions and the run-up to Christmas, the two organisations say the problems are only going to get worse.

“The current shortfall of around 90,000 HGV drivers is placing unsustainable pressure on retailers and their supply chains,” said the two bodies in a joint statement. “While there was a shortage of HGV drivers prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, these two events have exacerbated the situation; the pandemic halted driver training and testing for more than 12 months, while an estimated 25,000 EU drivers returned home during the pandemic and following the end of the transition period.”

Mercedes lorry Actros HGV

But the government has responded to the industry, announcing plans to hire a further 40 examiners to help handle the testing backlog. Made up of existing DVSA employees and external candidates, the new examiners will give the organisation more resources with which to carry out tests – something it says is “key” to increasing the number of drivers.

“We recognise the haulage industry keeps the wheels of our economy turning and have listened to its concerns about the current lorry driver shortage,” said DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder. “We have responded by doing all we can to support the industry in tackling this issue through increasing lorry driver testing. This includes our latest campaign to recruit more vocational examiners so we can maximise our lorry testing capacity.”

HGV truck in London traffic during heavy rain

Meanwhile, roads minister Baroness Vere said HGV drivers were vital for the economy and encouraged people to apply for the newly created examiner roles.

“Our HGV drivers provide a vital service delivering food, medicine and other vital goods to where they’re needed,” she said. “That’s why we’re committed to working with industry to address the shortage of drivers and have unveiled a package of robust measures. Increasing the DVSA’s testing capacity is a crucial part of this plan, and I’d encourage anyone with the right experience to apply for a role – helping keep our country moving.”