Andrew Malcolm, chief executive of the Malcolm Group, is questioning the safety of government plans to streamline HGV driver tests to tackle the driver shortage crisis.
The proposed changes to the testing regime were announced last week by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. They will see the removal of the need for car drivers to take a separate test to tow a trailer or caravan, allowing around 30,000 more HGV tests to be conducted every year.
Tests will also be made shorter by removing several elements and having them tested separately by a third party. Drivers will also be able to get a licence to drive an articulated vehicle without first getting one for a smaller vehicle, making around 20,000 more HGV driving tests available every year.
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The Transport Secretary said the changes, which still need to be approved by Parliament, would generate additional test capacity “very rapidly”. He added: “These changes will not change the standard of driving required to drive an HGV, with road safety continuing to be of paramount importance.”
Shapps said the UK government had already delivered 50% more tests than had been available before the pandemic, and that these changes would make available an additional 50,000 each year.
However, Andrew Malcolm queried Schapps claims this week. He said: “In principle, I can understand what they’ve done, to try to unlock test dates. However, I am seriously concerned about the safety aspect. I think they’ve cut far too much out the process of the test – that’s my biggest worry.”
RHA head of training and sales, Brian Kenny echoed Malcolm’s concerns. He said: “According to HSE, there’s about seven people knocked down and killed in yards each year by reversing vehicles.
“Removing the reversing manoeuvre from the test is a step back. As far as we’re concerned, one person killed is one too many. Going forward on the roads should be assessed and should be tested. It’s equally important to test properly how an individual reverses and manoeuvres off the road.”
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