What is the HGV driver shortage?

What is the HGV driver shortage

There is a well-documented shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, with the issue becoming more apparent since the re-opening of non-essential businesses and the increasing pressure that it has put on supply chains.

The shortage has reached concerning levels with a reported shortage of up to 100,000 HGV drivers in the UK.

It is clear to see that there is an obvious shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, with supermarket shelves becoming bare during the first & second UK lockdowns. You may find yourself asking what is being done about this driver shortage? This article will go through in detail the causes for the shortage and the steps being completed to try to solve the issue.

What has caused this nationwide shortage?

There are a number of factors that have contributed to the HGV driver shortage, all of which have increased the pressure being put on UK hauliers.

The Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has had serious consequences on all aspects of daily life, in all areas of the world, not excluding the UK haulage industry. The pandemic saw the UK and much of the world come to a complete halt, with travel being restricted, the economy shutting down, and a complete stop to all HGV driver training & testing.

All of these factors have meant that the already concerning driver shortage was made worse, with new drivers not being able to enter the industry and a lot of haulage companies ceasing to exist because of the lack of work and financial pressures.

Additionally, the pandemic caused a lot of European drivers to return home and stop working in the UK.

Backlog of HGV tests

Since the return of driver training, there has been a major backlog for all HGV testing, resulting in massive waiting times for students and causing a roadblock for new people trying to get into the industry.

This backlog is due to the forced closure of DVSA testing sites and the stoppage of all driver training across the country during the national lockdowns.

This means that the issue of a driver shortage will not be fixed anytime soon, with a limited number of candidates being able to obtain their HGV licence.

Poor Conditions

The conditions of the facilities that UK drivers have to deal with, such as at service stations, have come under major scrutiny recently, with conditions in European countries improving majorly while the UK stays stuck in the 80’s & 90’s.

It has made the image of being an HGV driver less appealing and along with majorly low and stagnant wages, has created a negative stereotype around HGV driving.


Another major contributing factor is Brexit. Thought Brexit had gone quiet? Brexit has forced a large percentage of European drivers to return home with HGV driving in England becoming increasingly difficult and less attractive because of the increase in rules and requirements that drivers need to adhere to.

Lack of young drivers

The average age for an HGV driver in the UK is around 55, this ageing sector has struggled to attract young people into the industry. A lot of the current HGV driver population are retiring and with the before mentioned lack of new entries to the industry, the shortage is becoming bigger by the year.

The big question is how to attract the younger generations into becoming an HGV driver through intensive HGV Driver Training Courses and how to make the job seem more attractive.

What is being done to solve these problems?

There has been a temporary relaxation of driver’s hours which mean that the normally permitted increase to the daily driving limit from 9 hours to 10 hours (allowed up to twice in one week) has been replaced with an increase from 9 hours to 11 hours (allowed up to twice in one week).

Furthermore, there has also been a change in rest periods and alternative patterns of weekly rest periods. Click the link below to visit the Gov website for more information on changes to drivers hours.

Also, some UK Haulage companies have begun to increase wages for HGV drivers in an attempt to get more people into the industry.


A Letter from the Government

In a letter from the government to the UK Logistics Sector, there were outlines of work being completed by the DVSA to increase the number of HGV test passes per week, with “Further measures” being put in place to “sustain this increase and potentially raise it to 2,000 successful passes a week”.

There are also talks of “provisional licence entitlements to drive articulated lorries at the same time as issuing provisional licence entitlements to drive rigid lorries” in the hope to streamline the HGV testing process.

There have been calls by UK hauliers for temporary work visas to be granted for EU HGV drivers, which have been dampened in this letter.


Now could be the ideal time for you to book your HGV training and begin your career as an HGV driver, with wages increasing and a clear demand for people in this industry. Here at 2 Start Training, we aim to make your training experience as easy as possible, by helping you every step of the way from booking your medical and theory tests, to helping you complete your training and gain your licence.


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