This week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a temporary extension of lorry drivers’ working hours. HGV drivers can now increase their daily driving limits from nine to 10 hours, or change weekly rest patterns.
While some drivers and smaller hauliers have welcomed the extension due to increased flexibility, there has been significant backlash from across the wider industry.
Conservatively estimating a current shortfall of around 60,000 drivers – with some suggesting this figure is actually closer to 100,000 – the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has labelled the move a “sticking plaster” that will make very little difference.
The union Unite has also said the extension will do nothing to resolve the driver shortage and that it will advise its members not to place themselves in danger if they are too tired to drive safely.
Additionally, there are concerns that it could potentially be counter-productive by making driving jobs less attractive.
In the midst of the current driver shortage with pay rates continuing to rise, suppliers and retailers have been warned to prepare for additional costs. Businesses and union officials have also warned that the shortage jeopardises deliveries to supermarkets and other sectors of the economy.
The government has said it has already taken action on the shortages, but that most of the solutions are likely to be driven from within the industry.
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