The Lorry Driver Shortage - True or False?

There has been much talk and speculation that in a few years there will be a crisis as a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK starts to impact on the Country.

Every item in a household is at some point on the back of a lorry, be it the brick or window in your house to the shirt and shoes you wear or your weekly groceries and daily milk and bread, even the fuel in your car and parts to maintain it are carried on a lorry.

Without the required number of lorry drivers in the UK then businesses will struggle with deliveries and imports, shelves will not be filled and fuel will run short, the impact on the economy and the public could be at a crisis point in just a few years.  I can state that 2019 and the run up to Christmas is a date to watch for it to become a reality and an explanation why I predict this will follow in due course.

In reality there is NOT a Driver shortage. 

This is the myth being instigated by the Road Haulage Association, The Freight Transport Association and leading figures In the Haulage Industry. It is a blame culture in an attempt to distract the problem from them instead of looking into the real reason and the issues within the Industry for a shortage of Drivers.

 The RHA asked the Government for £150m to assist driver training claiming the cost of coming into the Industry was to blame for the looming Drivers shortage, another short sighted and easy fix claim that would have failed and cost the tax payer money for no reason other than to justify their shortfall in tackling the issues in house.

There IS a shortage of Men and Women wanting or willing to be Drivers within this Industry in the UK.

At present there are 80,000 Licence holders to drive Lorries that do not use them, an unwilling number who have moved out of the Industry into other career opportunities due in the main to poor conditions, long hours, poor wages and a complete lack of respect for the highly qualified job they used to do.

1000s more are retiring, hanging up their keys or also moving to other jobs each year and for every 12 that are leaving only one newly trained is coming into the Industry to replace them and this is why the shortage is growing and will continue to grow.

It is estimated and claimed by the RHA that there is already a shortage of 60,000 Drivers in the UK, 20,000 less than actually hold a licence and so there is not a shortage of Drivers.

The RHA wanted more money throwing at the problem, the Transport Select Committee say train more Women, the Government are assisting ex-prisoners to train. All are turning a blind eye and ignoring the real reason there is a shortage and why the shortage will continue to grow to a crisis point in the UK.

The reason Drivers are leaving the Industry.

For over 20 years lorry Drivers in the UK have not been listened to, have had no say on their future and lacked any respect as an asset and part of the Haulage Industry.  Government, The RHA, The FTA and the Industry leaders have implemented rule and regulation on the lorry drivers without allowing any input or consultation from them. Rule and Regulation that has suited the Employer at the detriment of the employed and this as explained further is the real reason drivers are leaving in their 1000s and no Man or Woman wants to enter driving as a career.

These are the real issues that those above fail to apprehend (turned a blind eye to)

  • The average working weekly hours of a lorry driver = 60hours, no social life, no family life.

  • Low wages for a highly qualified and important job, in some circumstances less than £7.50 an hour while a worker at Lidl starts on £10.60

  • In 2016 Drivers are still in the majority working 15 hour days.

  • A large number who spend nights away only have a 9 hour break from work, to wash and shower, eat and drink, relax and sleep ready to be alert for the next day’s work, sometimes on a noisy road or in unsafe conditions.

  • A shortage of safe lorry parks and facilities. Many charge extortionate prices with very poor facilities.

  • The highest regulated and “fined” profession.

  • Extra cost to simply do a job, Driving licence renewal, digi card renewal, DCPC, Medical

  • Lorry Drivers can be punished not once, but twice and in some circumstances 3 times.

  • The DCPC is the most recent and controversial implementation that has impacted on drivers leaving in their 1000s. In 2014 it resulted in over 20,000 Drivers leaving and moving to other career paths. An EU Directive badly thought out and implemented by the UK Government for monetary gain at the Drivers expense. Only those that make profit from it are in favour and it is a major factor in the looming driver shortage with another 20, 000 Drivers likely to leave in 2019.

There is within the Industry and amongst “some” Employers a dictatorship and bullying culture to their employed drivers, demanding long hours and short breaks, not paying for overnight parking, a lack of any flexibility and a take it or leave attitude. Some expect their drivers to cover all cost in maintaining their employment including training.

The Industry needs to focus on the Drivers, talk to them, listen to them and then tackle the issues that they want resolving to ensure fewer continue to leave and to inject an image that the Industry has respect for those that keep their business afloat and in profit. Only then might the shortage start to be tackled in the long term.

Drivers in the UK

The majority of Drivers in the UK are hardworking, highly skilled and passionate Men and Women who go about their work each day which brings new challenges and in the most each learn something new each day along their travels. They are dedicated to their work and proud in the role they play in the UK. Unfortunately they are also fed up of the Industry and the way they are treated.

Most want to continue on this career path, some still enjoy the work, many are proud to be called Truckers.

The average age of the Driver is over 50, many long term and highly skilled who are needed in this Industry to pass on their skills to any younger generation, they are the ones who came into the profession when it was a respected career and have witnessed the decline in conditions, respect and gratitude from the Industry. These are the same drivers who are leaving in their 1000s.

There are some very good employers, Directors who respect and treat their Drivers well, and drivers who are grateful that some still remain but they are becoming far and few within this great Industry.

Drivers are dedicated and as such bring about good records of road safety, UK Drivers top the league and are the best and if the UK allow the loss of these dedicated Drivers there are no assurances on which direction the Industry will go to replace them, many already looking into the cheaper less well trained foreign drivers to fill the gaps and save on cost for profit. Road Safety is important and should be put at the top of any consultation.

The Future for Driver and Industry

It is very evident and justified. Continue on the same path as the last 20 years.  Government and Industry failing to talk and listen to driver, to respect and include, will see a continuation leading to a crisis. A shortfall in good highly skilled Drivers to keep the economy moving and this Country properly supplied.  Companies failing and collapsing and this once great Industry turning it over to the Foreign market to continue in the UK with only themselves to blame.

In a recent Driver survey carried out by:-  78% of Drivers would not recommend this as a career path to potential new trainee's. Until Drivers presently in this profession can recommend it to others then no Man or Woman would consider it further. Recruitment into this profession has always been maintained from recommendation within.


Talk to Drivers, listen to their opinions, include in consultation, respect and make them a part of the Industry and move forward with the times. Resolve issues and implement change, reward and appreciate. Only then will Drivers want to work with the Employer to improve profit and sustainability, encourage new blood and help youngsters to become the highly skilled ready to fill the gap of those ready to retire.

The future as it stands is uncertain, bleak and unsustainable.

It needs change today, not next week or month.

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