Next few weeks ‘a critical period in the road freight sector’

10th September 2014

AA welcomes HGV speed limit increase

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned that the next few weeks are likely to be a "critical period" for the UK's road freight sector.

According to James Firth, head of road freight and enforcement policy, the industry is currently dealing with a number of factors, including a shortage of qualified agency drivers and various administrative changes to driver licensing arrangements.

This week also sees the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) deadline, while Mr Firth also pointed out that the operating environment is changing as a result of the economic recovery.

He is therefore concerned that these various factors are "creating the perfect storm for fleet managers" and might pile pressure on scheduling plans for the Christmas peak period.

Fortunately, the "vast majority" of drivers have undertaken their 35 hours' periodic training in time for this week's Driver CPC deadline.

"The logistics industry is not going to a grind to a halt today as some have suggested," Mr Firth commented.

"But the deadline highlights a more fundamental problem of driver supply in the future."

Mr Firth went on to identify some of the factors that are preventing young people from going into the logistics industry, including the cost of getting an HGV licence and the lack of facilities for drivers on the road network.

He also pointed out that it is expensive for businesses to insure young drivers, while some people are put off entering the industry because it has a "generally negative image".

Mr Firth insisted that the sector needs to be recognised "for what it really is" – a challenging and rewarding industry that embraces cutting edge technology to solve problems every day.

In addition, he stated that it is the logistics sector that keeps the "economic heartbeat of the UK strong and uninterrupted".