Last reviewed 14 October 2021

Government plans to address the current driver shortage by amending the rules on testing are causing deep concern to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

Although it recognises the urgency of the driver shortage, it believes that these changes, which we reported on – here, could make the country’s roads less safe.

The skills required to drive a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or a bus safely are very different to those needed to drive a car, RoSPA points out and, in its view, the potential long-term risk to road safety outweighs the perceived benefits of cost and time savings associated with removing the staging process of the HGV driving test.

Alongside these changes, British HGV drivers have temporarily been permitted to work longer hours with an ongoing Government consultation proposing to extend this relaxation until January 2022.

RoSPA believes that this move places drivers at a higher risk of being involved in collisions caused by fatigue and inexperience.

Under the new proposals, the HGV driving test would no longer assess the driver’s ability to reverse and couple and uncouple a trailer. These manoeuvres, which RoSPA believes are critical to operating the vehicle safely, would be assessed separately by a third party.

This is seen as another cause for concern, as nearly a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur when reversing. RoSPA believes that the DVSA should continue to assess the reversing and coupling manoeuvres as part of the test.

As a result of these changes, employers should anticipate an increased proportion of their workers to be less experienced in driving larger vehicles and RoSPA advises employers to adjust their risk assessments accordingly.