HGV drivers: changes on the road ahead

We were all very aware of the HGV driver shortage in 2021 and rumours reached Acer HQ of retired drivers being offered up to £60/hour to return to driving. We saw empty shelves in our supermarkets as the impact began to be felt and there are still delays in the supply chain. According to the British Retail Consortium, the HGV driver shortage is reported to have increased over the last five years from 45,000 in 2016 to 76,000 today.

Faced with the critical shortage of HGV drivers and lack of test appointments being identified as a key issue, the Department for Transport (DfT) has had little choice but to review the current HGV licencing and testing process.

The Government has announced that they are to make 50,000 more HGV driving tests available across England, Wales and Scotland through a two-pronged strategy of streamlining HGV testing and ending car trailer testing.

What are the HGV Test Changes for 2022?

1. Streamlining the HGV driving tests

Streamlining around 20,000 more HGV driving tests every year, means drivers can gain their licence and enter the industry more quickly. Key areas for change, leading to the freeing-up of HGV test places are two-fold.

HGV / Driver ‘Certificate of Professional Competence’ (CPC) testing

Changes have been made to the way in which drivers are tested to gain their gain a Category C+E licence. A HGV Cat C+E allows you to drive a vehicle weighing over 7.5t, that has a detachable or a separate trailer. This licence is also referred as Class 1 Licence and is a higher level than a standard Category C.

The process of learning and testing has previously meant having to learn to drive and pass a test in a large rigid lorry to earn a category C licence before later being trained and tested to drive an articulated lorry to gain a category C+E licence.

You can now: 

  • learn to drive in an articulated lorry (Cat C+E) if your provisional lorry licence was issued from 15 November 2021 (Be aware, if you had a provisional licence before 15/11/21, you need to upgrade your provisional licence)
  • take your test in a large articulated lorry without having to pass one in a large rigid lorry (category C) first

When you pass your test in a large articulated lorry, you’re allowed to drive:

  • a medium-sized lorry (C1)
  • a medium-sized lorry towing a trailer (C1E)
  • a large rigid lorry (C)
  • a large articulated lorry (CE)

On a similar note, instead of having to pass a test in a medium-sized lorry to earn a category C1 licence, before later being trained and tested to drive a medium sized lorry with a trailer attached to gain a category C1+E licence, since Nov 2021 a driver is able to immediately learn to drive a medium-sized lorry towing a trailer and take a test towing a trailer, without having to first earn a category C1 medium sized lorry licence

Similar changes have been announced regarding obtaining a licence to tow a trailer with a bus, coach or minibus.

2. Driver CPC testing – changes to the Practical Ability Driving Test

A full Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) is required if driving a lorry, bus or coach as the principal part of your job. There are four tests to pass to get a full Driver CPC.

  • Part 1 a Theory test
  • Part 2 Case Studies
  • Part 3 a Practical Driving Ability test
  • Part 4 a Driver CPC Practical Test (Vehicle Safety Demonstration).

The Government’s streamlining plans relate to Part 3. The test was split into 2 parts on 29 November 2021. You now need to book and take your test in 2 parts:

  • Part 3a Off-road exercises
  • Part 3b On-road driving

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will continue to provide the Driver CPC part 3b test, but the DVSA will, in the future, allow external driver training organisations to conduct the Driver CPC part 3a test. The person conducting the test cannot be the same person as the one who gave the training. The test will be to the same standard as previously.

For more information on the testing process, click here

Time to change career?

If you are considering a change in career to a driver of a lorry, bus or coach, there is a wealth of information on the Gov.UK website.

Ensure you have adequate vehicle insurance

Whether you operate a small van, a large lorry or a fleet of vehicles, Acer Insurance have cost effective insurance solutions. To review your Motor Fleet Insurance policy and ensure you have adequate cover, please contact us. Our specialist team will be delighted to help: 01959 528435

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