9 September 2021

Concerns over fast-track HGV driver testing

Proposals to fast-track drivers into the haulage industry are political rather than practical and lack substantial public scrutiny and union consultation, says PCS responding to today’s announcement by the transport secretary.

Grant Shapps told parliament today that the Class C test used for rigid lorries and Class E test for larger articulated lorries would be combined into a single test. Currently, there is usually a 2-3 week minimum period between taking the two tests. We believe there are major concerns with health and safety and fear this could lead to more road deaths.

The plans also remove the need for car drivers to take additional tests for using a trailer.

A consultation exercise concluded on Monday (6) with about 9,000 responses. We can see no conceivable way that the outcomes have been considered in the time between the consultation’s close and today’s announcement.

 

PCS believes that the issue has been caused mainly by a pause in driver training related to Covid-19. While there is a backlog, this might be managed by prioritising HGV testing over standard driver testing in cars. 

We are concerned that the increase in testing could impact on our members’ health and safety and, well-being, with similar concerns to those that we are currently balloting driving examiner and test centre manager members over – the introduction of an eighth test to the schedule for car tests. 

We are also concerned that as emergency legislation will change HGV test requirements so that ‘off-road’ manoeuvres can be assessed by private training organisations rather than the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, that these plans represent privatisation of public services by the backdoor. The government wants to introduce this change from early October.

There has been no consultation with PCS on these proposals, which is a breach of collective bargaining protocols. We question how DVSA will ensure quality and consistency with so many training bodies and limited enforcement resources. There is also the question if candidates will pay the same for a reduced service.

This change is more political than practical, more about saving face for transport minister Grant Shapps, a knee-jerk reaction and too little too late.