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Is there still a UK HGV Driver Shortage?

Is there still a UK HGV Driver Shortage?

Employment for HGV drivers has been steadily falling since the middle of 2017, when it peaked at 321,000. With a drop of 68,000 from 2017 and a further drop of 31,000 since the onset of the Covid Pandemic, the number of HGV drivers has fallen to its lowest point in the past seven years, at 253,000. 

Recently published ONS figures, however, indicate a modest rise during the first half of 2022, with the number of HGV drivers increasing to 267,000. (June 2022). 


HGV Driver Numbers


An increase in the number of DVLA tests (26,388 tests, 43% more than in 2019) and the current Cost-of-Living crisis, which is causing many people to cut back on their spending and thus the demand for goods to be delivered, combined with fewer drivers retiring in the first half of 2022, could give the impression that the driver shortage is over. 

HGV driver pay have also risen, with advertised salaries increasing by 25% year on year, helping retain and attract more drivers into HGV driving professions. However, recruiting and retaining new and current drivers will continue to be a top issue in the foreseeable future. 


Why is there a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers? 

An ageing population of drivers is one of the main reasons behind the current decline, the average age of an HGV driver is 48 and 47% of HGV drivers are over 50 years old. The rate of retirement is exceeding the rate of recruitment. Truck driving is still not a desirable profession, even with the recent pay rises. Many drivers have given up on the profession due to the long hours, stress, nights away from home and lack of spaces with quality facilities at truck stops. 


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What can logistics companies do to retain HGV Drivers? 

As well as higher wages and better working conditions logistics companies can still do more to improve the working conditions of their drivers.

Stress can be reduced by creating and providing a delivery schedule that is realistic and achievable, doing so by basing it on the latest road and traffic data. Descartes’ delivery scheduling and route optimisation software uses the most up-to-date road information when creating delivery schedules, with travel speeds based not only on direction of travel but also the time of day, coupled with a continuous monitoring of delivery times can lead to more accurate allowances for loading and unloading at each delivery. 


How can Logistics firms overcome a shortage of drivers in their own company? 

Effective fleet management should be the top priority for fleet managers. 

Advanced delivery scheduling and route optimisation software will reduce the number of miles travelled along with the related expenses of fuel and maintenance. Quickly analysing all possible delivery choices and establishing the ideal mix of routes and stops in order to maximise delivery capacity a continuous dynamic routing software is the obvious solution. 

New technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, can help with driver retention, recognising the variables that are not under the driver's control and creating customised delivery routes that are dependent upon the productivity or expertise of the driver.

As an example, an experienced driver may be ten per cent more efficient than a new starter with the company. By tracking which drivers complete their routes sooner than predicted, machine learning can assess whether or not extra deliveries can be taken on. 

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