Concerns have been raised about new rules which are supposed to ensure safety on Britain’s roads but have been blamed for fatal accidents.
The Freight Transport Association says many older drivers have left the industry because new training requirements and not enough new recruits are being found to replace them.
And the situation has become so serious that many retailers could struggle to fulfil their orders over the festive period.
The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence takes drivers off the road and into the classroom and costs each applicant £3,000 – even if they have been in the industry for years.
According to the British Association of Aggregates, the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence which was introduced by the EU with the stated aim of ‘improving road safety and helping to maintain high standards of driving’ has in fact made the roads more dangerous.
The legislation came into effect on 10 September 2009 with five years allowed for existing drivers to gain the 35 hours training required. The period of grace expired 10 September 2014 but many drivers either didn’t complete the training or left instead. Eight other EU countries have delayed implementation of DCPC until September 2016.
According to the BAA, the consequent shortage of drivers has forced hard pressed transport operators to use less experienced, younger and foreign drivers to keep their trucks working. Despite many complaints, the Department for Transport, DfT, has so far refused to acknowledge any problem. An ongoing series o horrific accidents have caused suspicion that the new legislation may be costing lives rather than protecting them.
Two cyclists were mown down in Cornwall just 40 miles into their 960 mile Land’s End to John O’Groats charity ride. The young truck driver was short of sleep and had been texting repeatedly at the wheel. A twenty year old girl was killed and her fiancé seriously injured when their car was struck by a truck driver watching an online dating site. A motoring correspondent was pronounced dead at the scene when a truck ploughed into the rear of his car on an M25 slip road.
“HGV operators are being kicked in the teeth by the EU, which always thinks it knows what’s best for Britain. Hard-working people should not be losing their livelihoods – we see no need for drivers to undertake this unnecessary and expensive course.” said UKIP Transport spokesperson Jill Seymour MEP.
Director of the BAA, Robert Durward, expressed concern that the examples they know about may only be “the tip of the iceberg.”
“Starving industry of transport is crazy; however, causing many thousands of inexperienced truck drivers, some who cannot even speak our language to drive 44 tonne trucks alongside private cars, bikes and pedestrians is positively insane. This is not so much a case of ‘something must be done,’ this time something needs to be undone, and quickly.” he added.
“The best way to achieve a safe and cost effective haulage fleet is to allow professional operators to run their businesses properly. They are best placed to judge a driver’s capabilities but their ability to select only competent drivers has been seriously compromised by this ill-conceived legislation. LGV CPC has back-fired and is almost certainly killing innocent people as well as strangling the economy. It must be scrapped or postponed in line with other EU countries.””
Mrs Seymour added, “There is a real concern that, as things start to ramp up around Christmas, there simply won’t be enough HGV drivers in the UK to make all the deliveries.”
“Many in the haulage industry are blaming the strict EU rules for drivers, and I am not surprised. The high costs involved in getting a licence are proving hugely prohibitive.
“It is a menace. It’s expensive, over-complicated, and it is clearly causing many truck and bus drivers to either lose their jobs, or take early retirement.