Reporter tells of ‘terrifying’ time in cab of HGV as he attempts to drive truck
Former truckers are being tempted to get back in the cab with GBP78,000 salaries, while tests are being streamlined in a bid to attract rookie drivers to the industry. But there are fears the inexperienced HGV drivers could be a danger on the roads as the Department of Transport signals that tests will be modified to help ease the nation’s distribution issues. Journalist Dan headed to the National Driving Centre in Croydon, South London, where trainees can drive trucks weighing up to 44 tons and 16.5 metres in length, reports the Mirror.
But he admitted: “It was terrifying. We’re only driving around a quiet car park, but the stress of being in control of such a massive vehicle with other cars, people and buildings around is enough to make me glad we’re not out on the road.
Supermarkets and suppliers in the UK are struggling to meet demand following an exodus of HGV drivers from EU countries, who returned to the continent during the pandemic and remained there (Image: Steve Parsons/PA Wire)
“When I set off going backwards in the NCA’s articulated lorry, I’m a shambles, struggling to keep the lorry straight. Even crawling is an overwhelming exercise in concentration.
“I managed to inch the lorry into the bay but I’m horrified to see how close I am to the barrier. I think it’s safer if I stick to my day job.” Haulage firms are trying to fill 100,000 vacancies and the Government is introducing a visa scheme allowing 5,000 foreign truckers to work in the UK temporarily.
HGV testing has been simplified in a bid to fast-track 50,000 lorry-driving rookies into jobs before Christmas. Measures include reversing exercises being axed from the main test as a time-saver. But Kate Gibbs, of the Road Haulage Association, said: “Safety has to be paramount.
It’s inevitable accidents will happen and we have to do all we can to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” Victoria Lebrec lost her left leg when she was knocked off her bicycle by an HGV in 2014. Now head of policy at the RoadPeace campaign group, Victoria, 30, warned: “More people will be killed and seriously injured if road safety is compromised.
“This feels like something that has been rushed through in reaction to an economic issue and I’m worried it has not been properly considered.”
Laurence Bolton, of the National Driving Centre, said it was “a huge ask” to expect ordinary drivers to master lorry driving without proper experience.
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