How Will Shortening the HGV Driver Testing Process Affect the Industry?

15 Sep 21

With a lack in supply already plaguing UK shops and restaurants, it’s evident that the lorry driver shortage is beginning to take its toll on our day-to-day lives. Industry analysts predict that the crisis will deepen in the months to come, therefore the government have been forced to act to alleviate the pressure on haulage companies.

To help tackle this problem, it has been announced that HGV driving tests will become more relaxed. This would result in up to 50,000 additional HGV driving exams being offered each year, allowing drivers to obtain their licence and enter the business more rapidly.

But how exactly have the rules changed? And will they have any other secondary effects on the industry? Find out in this week’s blog.

Changing regulations

  • Instead of having to take two different exams, spaced three weeks apart, drivers will just have to take one test to drive both a rigid and articulated lorry.
  • To allow around 30,000 extra HGV driving tests to be taken this year, car drivers will not be able to take a test to tow a trailer or caravan, as of September 20.
  • Tests will be made shorter, and drivers will no longer need to be tested separately by a third party. The reversing, uncoupling and recoupling exercises will also be removed from the tests.
  • Drivers of articulated vehicles will no longer be required to get a licence for a smaller vehicle beforehand. According to the government, this will allow for an additional 20,000 HGV exams each year, enabling drivers to acquire licences and enter the sector more rapidly.

Risk to driver safety?

Although this move has been welcomed by certain trade associations, some are worried that shortening and simplifying driving tests may compromise road safety. The new regulations would result in people who had sat a single test being allowed to drive the largest articulated lorries.

Considering how difficult it is to reverse a 55ft trailer into a loading bay for an inexperienced driver, the industry-wide safety concerns are perhaps well-placed. In response to this, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claimed that the changes will “streamline” but not “reduce the rigour of the test”.


With a dwindling supply of staff, haulage business have no choice but to take on newly qualified drivers. If you’re concerned that the lack of experienced employees could hinder your operation, it’s important to appropriately manage your team and work to their strengths.

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