Thoughts on road transport

Commercial Motor magazine has had a few items recently related to skills in the transport industry. They shed a little light onto the issues that lie behind why the average age of drivers is continuing to move towards 60.

First, LGV test passes are down for yet another year – LGV test passes down again. In 2008/09, 86,826 tests were taken; in 2012/13, that has dropped to 43,589.

Another part of the same article noted that 120,000 existing drivers have yet to start any of the CPC training that they have to have completed by September 2014, or their licences will be invalid. There is bound to be an economic impact if that number of drivers stop working in the run up to Christmas 2014.

The next item that caught my eye – Cut the price of training – points out that to get the basic commercial driving licences (C and C+E) costs a person £2,400. Barry Proctor is arguing for training to be non-VATable. However, one wonders whether businesses that are complaining about not being able to find drivers might be better considering paying for young drivers to train – an informal training levy? Ok, there’s a risk that they might leave, but isn’t that down to good management.

The biggest issue though, mentioned in passing, is that UK insurers charge a much higher rate for young commercial vehicle drivers, if they will insure them at all. Interesting that, for example, French insurance companies have different strategies for their French and UK operations (this is much less of an issue in France). And there I was, thinking that the point of insurance was to spread the risk. The Wikipedia definition is “Insurance involves pooling funds from many insured entities to pay for the losses that some may incur”. It seems as though insurance companies, by working with smaller and smaller pools of risk, are starting to cause significant economic issues, i.e. this is a major reason why young drivers cannot get driving jobs.

Finally there was an item about older drivers. This gives a run down on some of the legal issues surrounding employing an aging workforce. If a common reason for enforced retirement is capability, we would suggest that a good way to test this objectively would be with a vehicle simulator, as that allows concentration and reaction times to be tested without any issues of employer bias?

However, this item started by stating that hauliers are “finding it increasingly difficult to attract younger drivers”. The other two items commented on above, might have a clue as to why this is – and it is not that the younger drivers are not ready and willing!


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