DfT considers licence change to allow heavy van use

Van driver driving van.

Reintroducing the right for people who pass their car driving test to be able to drive larger vans or lorries is being considered by the Government to help tackle the driver shortage.

Prior to January 1, 1997, people who passed their driving test for a car also obtained the right to drive heavier, larger vehicles up to 8.25 tonnes and minibuses – these entitlements were removed by the EU.

The Department for Transport (DfT) stressed that no decisions have been made on whether these rights should be reintroduced, but it is keen for views from the commercial fleet industry to inform its future approach to the issue.

Any changes, says the DfT, would need to ensure continued safe use of UK roads and be economically proportionate, with future possible restrictions based on age or driving experience.

It is one of a series of measures included in a call for evidence, launched today (Friday, August 5), which the DfT is keen to hear from the industry about.

They include, creating a formal register of HGV driving instructors and publishing pass rates for instructors, which the DfT says could help improve HGV driver training standards, raise the profile of the profession and enhance road safety. 

It is also seeking views on whether the UK should permit mechanics who already hold an HGV licence to drive vehicles like buses or coaches for repair purposes.

Transport minister Karl McCartney said: “We continue looking for ways to make it easier and quicker to kickstart a rewarding career in logistics. That’s why we’re asking people for their views on how we could streamline the licensing process and remove any potential barriers – making the most of our post-Brexit freedoms.”

New HGV drivers are taking and passing their driving test in record numbers. Between March 2022 and May 2022, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carried out 29,384 HGV tests – 54% more than the corresponding period in 2019 before the pandemic. 

The Government also recently launched The Future of Freight Plan, encouraging people to choose a career in logistics.

The plan includes a major campaign, launched in June 2022, to recruit and retain a skilled workforce in the logistics sector. 

The call for evidence will close on October 28.

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