The Department for Transport (DfT) has extended the temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours enforcement until October, due to the continued pressures on local and national supply chains.
It said the move reflects the “exceptional circumstances” stemming from a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers causing “acute supply chain pressures”.
The original extension expired at 11:59PM on August 8, but has now been extended until 11:59PM on October 3.
Operators must notify the DfT if the relaxation is being used by completing a notification form, which can be found here.
Drivers must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is essential for enforcement purposes.
The driver shortage is hitting crisis level in the UK, with demand increasing across supply chains as the country recovers from Covid-19.
The pandemic has resulted in the loss of about 12 months of driver training and testing, while online retail averaged 28.1% of retail sales in 2020, according to Logistics UK, up from 19.2% in 2019.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has already worked to ensure almost 1,500 HGV drivers pass their driving test every week, says the Government.
However, compared with 2019, there were 43% less tests conducted in 2020, with 35% of these conducted in the first quarter (January to March), when fewer than 15,000 tests were carried out, prior to the advent of the pandemic.
And, during the first lockdown period of April through June, only 631 tests took place. By comparison, in 2019, 18,625 tests were conducted over a similar period.
Ministers unveiled a package of measures in July to tackle the HGV driver shortage and ease pressure on the sector.
They include launching a consultation on allowing drivers to take one test to drive both an articulated and rigid lorry. This, says the Government, would streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and would increase lorry test appointment availability.