Driver Shortages

The FTA warn of delivery delays in run up to Xmas.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) are warning that the implementation of new driver regulations has roused industry-wide alarm that UK bound cargo will face material delays in terms of delivery (and consequent price increases), in the run up to Christmas.

Drivers in this vital industry are furious with the statutory implementation of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), which all truckers had to complete by September 10th.

As a result of these new regulations, haulage companies are widely reporting that many of their senior drivers have chosen early retirement rather than invest the £3,000 required to obtain the CPC, a course which takes a week to complete. The FTA have said it’s not only the Driver CPC which is causing the shortage. In addition the cost of license acquisition means that drivers are unable to fund these, most especially self-employed hauliers. Added to the insurance problems for the younger generation, the industry is experiencing fundamental challenges in recruiting young drivers.

That said, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), “the vast majority of drivers have met the deadline” – out of the estimated 675,000 professional drivers in Great Britain, 664,000 drivers have reportedly completed the 35-hour course by the 10th September deadline, although it has been advised that a large percentage of transport managers who attended an Association conference on the day the CPC law came into effect, still reported driver shortages as a huge problem (although the DVSA have insisted that figures for new truckers acquiring licenses were on the rise this year with a 3.2% year-on-year increase). Unfortunately these statistics mask the fact that drivers are deserting the more onerous and unpredictable process that haulage to and from freight terminals, docks, ports and end users represents and are finding work in domestic transport industries that offer kinder more ‘family friendly’ working hours and conditions.

The build up to Christmas is therefore likely to set a big challenge for freight service operator forwarders and hauliers – the focus will be on the capacity of agency drivers and subcontractors to fill the void, but as these are also in short supply, customers should factor in the expectation that there will be an unavoidable increase in transport delays and delivery/collection problems in the coming months.

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