Is relaxing the rules the right decision?

Is relaxing the rules the right decision?

Tuesday 20th July 2021
Subir Gupta

As a response to the driver shortage in the UK, the Government has announced it will extend HGV drivers' hours from Monday 12th July until Sunday 8th August 2021. This decision has divided opinions, and here Subir Gupta, our National Account Manager, shares his personal views.

Drivers' Hours Law was created for one reason - road safety, so one could question if extending the hours for drivers, when they are already exhausted when pushed to the legal limit, is the right decision.

Conversely, one might argue that with the current driver shortage, needs must. If anything, the pandemic has served to rightfully show how important the road transport industry is - without this industry we wouldn't have easy access to all the essentials we need to live our lives daily. This industry keeps the wheels turning (excuse the pun), so with the shortage of drivers - plus July and August being peak holiday months - maybe the relaxing of the rules could be seen as a welcome short-term solution for those operators who are suffering the most.

The many operators I have spoken to are divided by the decision, but some are facing increasing pressure from customers requiring goods to be delivered - this is a very tricky scenario, and honestly, there is no right or wrong answer.

For me, I'm more concerned about post-August and the impact the shortages will have as we move towards the Christmas peak; not only on operators and drivers, but also the impact it will have on supply chains and the price of goods in shops.

The driver shortages have been compounded partly because of the pandemic, which delayed 30,000 tests for new drivers, but operators are also blaming BREXIT saying that 15,000 European truck drivers have left the UK in the last year.

Shockingly, RHA say that the UK is short of around 60,000 lorry drivers, so the big question is, what can the government / industry do to solve the problem of driver shortages? The extension over the summer to drivers' hours is only a short-term solution, it cannot be indefinite.