Road Haulage Association

Haulage Industry News

An impending driver shortage?

There seems to be little doubt that the haulage industry will be facing a shortage of drivers sooner or later.

Every member’s meeting that I attend hears reports of a shortage of sub-contractors and difficulties in finding good drivers and there is no prospect of things improving in the next twelve months.

As everyone knows, the deadline for completion of the thirty-five hours of periodic training that is required for drivers who held licences before the DCPC rules started is approaching quickly. While the precise number of drivers that needed to do these hours was never really established and the number of haulage – as opposed to passenger – drivers that have completed their training is equally unknown, the industry has to deal with the availability of drivers on an individual company basis.

As the September deadline passes, we will be heading into the Christmas rush, when demand for both subbies and agency drivers peaks. Do you expect to deal with demand? Have you asked regular subbies if they will be able to cope and have you asked your driver hire agencies what capacity they will have? If you answer “no” to either of those questions you may be in for quite a shock when you do, because all the signs suggest that things will only get worse. This inevitably raises the question of where new drivers will come from, and RHA is working on a number of initiatives that will deliver new drivers and we know of a number of other organisations with schemes designed to bring new people into the industry.

In the meantime, what can members do to keep the drivers that they already have? Well, for a start, you can convince any drivers that are refusing to cooperate with the Driver CPC that it is not going to go away and that they need to get their thirty five hours in before the 10th of September – making it clear that they cannot work without the Qualification Card that comes after thirty five hours are completed. Then there is the question of rates of pay. Keeping drivers might imply higher wages, but, when customers are seeking to extend payment terms, you are trying to expand in response to demand and drivers continue to expect weekly pay packets, higher wages simply add cost and, in turn, put even more pressure on cash flow.

Then there is what is quite often the elephant in the room – drivers’ health. Those older drivers who you are so keen to retain are those that could well have problems renewing a licence because of health issues. Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems, sleep apnoea and eyesight can all result in a doctor being unable to pass a driver fit to drive and that will result in the loss of their licence. Many of these problems can be sorted out quickly, particularly if they are detected early, so encouraging drivers to look after their health and getting themselves checked out in good time can keep them in work. There is no one answer to the issue of the growing driver shortage, and the biggest mistake is to think you won’t be affected.


Geoff Dunning


3 responses to “An impending driver shortage?

  1. Ken smith July 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Answer To All Your Questions Is Simple I Pay The Good Drivers The Wright Money Treat Driver Like Human Beings Driver Need More Lorry Parks With Clean Toilets And Showers HELTH And Safty As Got Be On A Joke Load Security Is A Problem , And With Owner Driver And Transport Contractors Pay Better Rates And Get better Rates For All Back Loads .

  2. Sadie Weston July 11, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Great article Geoff, you have detailed a number of the main issues and concerns that that we all face at the moment and you are right there is no quick fix to the significant shortage of drivers nationally. The simple fact is that there are not enough drivers joining the industry in comparison to those who are leaving. We all have a vested interest in making sure being a professional driver is seen as a worthwhile career and need to ensure the conditions are right for people wanting to join.
    We are working hard to convince drivers not to leave the industry because of the cpc training and paying for drivers to attend cpc ourselves as well as improving the benefits and driver’s overall employment package to attract and retain drivers to our business. On balance we know of only a few drivers who are not completeing the training and “retiring” but even a 1% or 2% loss will have a significant impact on the already under resourced market.
    We are investing in healthcare for the drivers, offering health checks and providing courses on nutrition to educate the drivers to the dangers of poor diet and the likely effects to them. We are seeking to engage more women hgv drivers by providing family friendly work patterns and assistance with childcare and have a newly qualified driver scheme, making entry in the industry with quality training and employment opportunities, more accessible.
    Professional drivers are the lifeblood or our business and we need to look after them or we will all find we have no business at all.
    Sadie Weston, Employ Recruitment UK Limited, Ashbourne.

  3. trevor scott johns September 9, 2014 at 9:50 am

    low rates/ bad conditions/long hrs/congested roads/rude people/non skilled auto gearbox driven vehicles/badly trained low paid transport office staff/= small pool of good skilled fed up drivers and larger pool of wreck less big wheeler brained curtain hidden unskilled steering wheel attendants.

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