Road Safety GB is officially opposing government plans for changes to driver licence permissions.

The Government is considering changes to tackle the ongoing and significant driver shortage. This is having a significant effect on new haulage jobs and the UK’ supply chain logistics.

The DfT is currently gathering views on the proposals for the government.

Driving backwards?

A key proposal is around the reintroduction of ‘Grandfather Rights’. These could allow car driving licence holders entitlement to drive certain larger vans or smaller lorries up to 7.5t.

This was the case prior to 1 Jan 1997. People who passed their driving test for a car also obtained the right to drive heavier, larger vehicles and also minibuses.

Removing the entitlements ensured the alignment of UK rules with those of the EU. But post-Brexit, the government wishes to reinstate Licence categories C1 and D1 entitlements. The idea is to reduce the shortfall in professional drivers by removing the need for additional testing.

Other proposals being considered include: a formal register of HGV driving instructors; publishing pass rates for HGV instructors; and allowing mechanics who already hold a HGV licence, to drive vehicles such as buses and coaches for repair purposes.

Full details of the call for evidence are set out online.

Skills and responsibility

Matt Staton director of research for Road Safety GB, says they are focusing on advice from “two Road Safety GB specialists with expert knowledge of commercial vehicles and minibuses”.

“Passing a driving test in a car does not assess the skills required to drive a much larger vehicle, or deal with the responsibilities to passengers. We recognise the driver shortage but, on balance, it would appear driving standards would deteriorate if the ‘Grandfather Rights’ were reintroduced and should be opposed from a road safety perspective.

The government consultation runs until 28 October 2022.