Government announces temporary extension of drivers’ hours rules

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A row of lorries at a motorway service station on April 06, 2021 in Westerham, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The government today announced a temporary extension of drivers’ hours rules in response to the continuing shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

“We’re aware of a shortage of HGV drivers, so I’m announcing a temp extension of drivers’ hours rules from Mon 12 July, giving flexibility to drivers & operators to make slightly longer journeys,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted.

“We’ve ramped up the number of driving tests available & will consider other measures.”

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), which repeatedly demanded the measure, said this is a “big win” for the wholesale channel, helping them to support shops, restaurants and pubs to get all the stock they need.

“This is just what food distributors needed – an immediate and obvious solution to what could have been a catastrophic supply chain failure,” James Bielby, chief executive of the FWD, said.

“The flexibility in drivers’ hours means those out-of-the-way shops, pubs and restaurants will get the stock they need for the big re-opening on Freedom Day, and will allow wholesalers to do as much as 15 per cent more deliveries each day. Provided it remains in place into the autumn, it will avert possible school closures in September and shortages in the shops in the run up to Christmas.”

Bielby assured that the safety of drivers and other road users will be top of mind when wholesalers decide where and when to use the extension.

“While it’s the perfect solution to avert disaster, we recognize it is a stop-gap measure and Government and the haulage industry need to work very hard on longer-term solutions, such as raising the profile, pay and conditions of the HGV driver role and incentivising younger people to take up the occupation,” he added.