The government has been shaking up the driving license rules, including what size vehicle someone can drive with a car driving test. One of the ideas put forward is that we should allow people to get behind the wheel and drive a truck that weighs up to 7.5 tons with just car driving experience. So what do industry experts think of this proposal?
Generally, Not a Good Idea
A snap poll was held on Fleet News online asking people’s opinions over whether heavy vans and trucks should be offered to those with car driving licenses. This revealed that over half, approximately 53.4% of those who responded, said it was a bad idea. The Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP), the training body for fleet trade, says that if this were to be introduced, safeguarding would need to go alongside driver training. There is a massive difference between a small car and a long-wheelbase truck that weighs over 3 1/2 tons. You have other features like air brakes, and tail lifts to take into consideration, and whilst it seems like a very easy fix for the number of extra truck drivers needed in the UK currently, it could prove dangerous and place a lot of extra work on the employer.
Current Car Licence
A current car license, officially category B, means that anyone holding this document can drive vehicles up to 3.5 tons or an alternatively fueled vehicle up to 4.25 tons, provided they undertake a five-hour training. The license enables them to do this to convey commercial goods. To drive anything heavier, which is where we seem to have a national shortage in the UK, the C1 license is required, which takes into account vehicles from 3.5 to 7.5 tons plus a trailer when needed of a maximum authorised mass of up to 750 kg. This combines to a total of 8.25 tons. At the moment, the C1 license requires extra training and isn’t an automatic right.
Could be Dangerous
One of the reasons why we currently have a separate HGV test is to cover things that don’t crop up when dealing with a car. For example, the C1 light goods vehicle test is an addition to the license that allows the driver to go up to 7.5 point ton vehicles and requires candidates to demonstrate competency with reversing, using mirrors and observation at junctions when changing direction. These are the three most common reasons why drivers fail this test at the moment. Therefore if somebody has had no training in this area, it stands to reason that they will not be able to prove competency.
No Definitive Answer Yet
At the moment, there is no definitive decision in place. While we have been experiencing a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, it was revealed that 74% more tests for the appropriate C1 licenses were carried out in the first three months of 2022 compared with levels before the pandemic struck.