Relaxed hours for HGV drivers will increase road danger

danger lorry

In response to a shortage of HGV drivers that threatened to lead to empty supermarket shelves, the government has decided relax rules this month for how long lorry drivers can work.

According to the transport secretary, Grant Shapps on Twitter this week: “We’re aware of a shortage of HGV drivers, so I’m announcing a temp extension of drivers’ hours rules from Mon. 12 July, giving flexibility to drivers & operators to make slightly longer journeys. We’ve ramped up the number of driving tests available & will consider other measures.”

The shortage in drivers is thought to be due to foreign workers returning home during lockdown and new immigration controls following Brexit. As a result the government earlier this month held emergency talks with Britain’s biggest food companies. Premier Foods considers the situation so grave that it called on the government to consider using the army to distribute goods.

However, the decision to relax rules for how long HGV drivers can work will undoubtedly increase the danger on our roads. While it’s not possible to calculate the exact number of sleep related crashes, according to RoSPA driver fatigue may be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road crashes, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious collisions.

One day we may look back and wonder how 40-ton lorries were ever allowed to rumble through our villages and city streets. Though they make up only 3% of vehicles, lorries account for one quarter of Europe’s road transport emissions – a figure that’s expected to grow as traffic increases further. On top of that, heavy goods vehicles are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal crashes.

Can any HGV be safe for cyclists?

At the moment, the answer unfortunately is no. The best single piece of advice for cyclists in towns and cities is to be hyper aware of lorries at junctions and give them a wide berth whenever possible. It’s an example of the defensive riding that can help keep you safe, but why should the onus so often be on vulnerable road users?

Until we have the high quality infrastructure, road policing and legal framework to transform streets into places designed for people rather than motorised traffic, there must at the very least be strict standards for the Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) that operate on our roads to benefit cyclists and pedestrians. Extending drivers’ working hours is a retrograde step.


“In more than 60 per cent of European cities, HGV movements are restricted”

Speaking to the Telegraph some years ago, Chris Boardman – a man who always talks sense about cycling – said: “I think their use in cities needs to be managed. In more than 60 per cent of European cities, HGV movements are restricted. In Paris, for example, there are no articulated vehicles in the centre of the city and there were zero cycling deaths last year. There is huge evidence in favour of it. These things are not happy bedfellows for cyclists. They should be restricted and it can be done. All those cities across Europe that have done it seem to be working fine. The Mayor told me he would look into it. I don’t know whether he has, but I certainly can’t see any action.”

Ethical cycle insurance

On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. Check your small print for so-called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use the term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.

With ETA, however old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy from us helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future. Little wonder The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be Britain’s most ethical provider.


  1. Eastment


    British road were never designed for 44 ton vehicles, we should have stayed with a maximum 38 tons. Bridges and road surfaces are constantly damaged by the increased weight. We should be making more use of the railways to transport goods over longer distances and smaller vehicles to transport freight from railhead to final destinations.
    Far too many HGV / LGV drivers believing that their Satnavs are ‘God’ and ignoring mandatory road signs for weight, width, height etc. Truck drivers used to be know as “knights of the road,” not any longer! Granted they are under pressure to deliver the ‘goods’ but the law is the law!
    Extra driving hours and less rest time will only lead to more serious accidents! So the increase in driving hours may be a very bad move by the Government.

  2. Andy


    Why is it always the truck drivers who get the earache cyclists need to take a long hard look at themselves.The way they ride sometimes is unbelievable running red lights swerving without even looking behind sitting in the middle if lanes.ban trucks from cities its not like we enjoy delivering there anyway but lets see how long it takes for things to run out.
    Sime answer is dont like trucks dont buy things.

  3. Helen Lloyd


    Sir. I read this article. It appears you need enlightening. Lorry drivers are yet again insulted are considered morons,the most hated road users. Tell me sir, when you get into the drivers seat. Do you drive and adopt an attitude of courtesy,consideration and caution. Abide by the highway code. Indicate every manoeuvre. Keep to the speed limit. Maintain a professional standard. Obviously unknown to you we are governed by very strict laws in which we have to abide by. For example if we happen to over run our drive time by even one minute it’s a potential £100 fine. Between finish time and start time of the next shift if 8hours 59 minutes is taken instead of 9 hours £100. fine. Daily break 44 minutes instead of 45 minutes £100.fine.etc etc. Any slightest error/mistake is recorded. We have cameras in our cabs focused on us all the time. How many occupations are monitored all day every day. Our movements recorded and printed. Tolerate foul mouthed hand gestures conducted by idiot drivers who think they are in the right everytime. Do they have to drive to a high standard. Consider other road users CYCLEISTS and care for the load we carry. Not on your Nellie, do they have driving assessments conducted. Do they spend at least a day a year in a classroom as required by law to obtain the right to drive. A job of a truck driver is far more than driving from A to B. It is a job with so many rules regulations and laws there are very few or any other professions that are heavily open to scrutiny or prosecution. Consider this 50% of lorry drivers are over 60. 25% are over 55 so therefore only 25% are below 55. Also think about this too. For every 4 drivers retiring only one is entering the profession. You think there is a shortage now? 100,000 vacancies,trucks taken off the road parked up no drivers. I wonder how the situation is going to be when the 50% of over 60’s retire. You think there’s a problem now, one can not imagine how the future will be.

  4. Matthew Draper


    Just shows the government don’t listen. It’s not the foreign worker going back home it’s the introduction of the cpc I know alot of drivers give up. and alot not renowing due to the cpc. There are plenty of drivers out there with licence but don’t wont to do the cpc which cost us more when alot of driver are already on a poor wages. I bet we scrap the cpc alot would be back no doubt. Driving an extra hour not going to make much difference.

  5. Ian


    I am a class 1 driver. At the start of the pandemic we were treated much much better , now we are back to being scum of the earth , constantly in the way. My personal advice in regards to the shortage is to ease up on the rules & regulations , there is too much. Why do so-called professional drivers have to undertake a yearly cpc course , try educating the car drivers instead in respect of the things we see on the road , the dangerous drivers that want to get off a motorway by cutting across at the last second , those that seemingly want to rammed by slamming on their brakes . The hgv drivers are always the first to be blamed at the scene of an accident. Take some advice car drivers …… a lot of us have dash-cams !!!

  6. Driver


    You want to ban artic trucks from cities. Fine. Let’s see the consequences, assuming the amount of goods to be carried remain the same; if you want to replace one big truck, you need two smaller (one 40 tonne truck = two 18 tonne truck). 18t still too big? Replace those with 12 tonners. You’ll need 3 of those at best, 4 would be a safer bet. But 12t still considered heavy goods vehicle, and you want to ban all of them, so let’s go smaller. To replace a single 12 tonner, you need two 7.5t, or 3 vans. You see where I’m going with this? There’s already a driver shortage, and banning those big trucks would require exponentially more drivers, which would inevitably lead to the increase of the prices on the shelves, because those extra drivers need to get paid as well. By the way, the emissions remain the same, or probably worst, since what one big truck can do with a single trip, smaller vehicles need multiple runs back and forth to do the same.
    You want to reduce the cyclist deaths? Try to make them understand that despite a truck driver’s best effort to leave as little room as possible to prevent cyclist to squeeze in to their blind spots they squeeze in anyway, they might die.

  7. Dave


    Increased drivers hours is another accident waiting to happen . The authorities introduced a 48 hour working week, but then at the same time brought in POA ( period of availability ) and as a result drivers are still doing 65 to 70 hrs a week . The trucks are machine’s not people.

  8. gary lee Johnson


    The main reason for the shortage of hgv drivers the hours are to long the wage is poor and the facilities in services ar poor and too expencive….and too many restrictions eg fines

  9. Heart Nisgob


    Who will deliver your Bike to your bike shop?
    A Bike…

  10. Roy Mckillop


    To get more drivers back on the road scrap the drivers CPC, there are drivers doing other jobs becausr of it.

  11. Nick


    When bikes pay road tax and insurance then I will watch out for them. Pedal bikes belong on the path not the road.

    • Donald Gilchrist


      The transport companies want drivers, fully qualified and with experience, but very few of them are willing to train people. I’m a bus driver and the company I work for train drivers, as do most. We are still well down on drivers. Maybe if more of the transport companies put their money where there mouth is, and trained people, they would have more staff. At the moment you have to spend thousands on a license, to try and earn little more than a shelf stacker.

  12. Stephen Thompson


    An extra hour behind the wheel means one hour less rest. A worrying development. I would challenge Grant Chapps’ explanation for driver shortage. The fact is that it’s poor pay and bad conditions that are to blame. Extending the hours will make the driver shortage worse, to say nothing of the effect on road safety.

  13. Michael Nelson


    I had to wait for my renewal form for HGV licence then wait for medical appointment. It ran out on 26 June i sent it back recorded delivery they recieved on 19 June i contacted them by phone after 6 hours on 26 June they havn’t got a clue where application is can’t drive till they start processing it up too 10 weeks maybe more. This is not helping driver shortage.
    M Nelson.

  14. Taz


    All this driver shortage mess created by government. Main reason was ir35, for few thousand pound tax from lorry driver they put risk the economy and country. East European drivers gone back and poor wages and facilities not encouraging young guys. Only tory government is responsible.

  15. Ioan Dolben


    As a hgv driver that’s been driving articulated lorries for 41 years ,il tell you the problem here and can be solved easily and quickly .
    Set minimum wage at £15 an hour more for Saturdays and Sundays..
    Major companies have had it too easy for too long employing drivers from Eastern European countries for minimum wages .
    Until this year I was earning the same money as I was 30 years ago.
    1 put money up to £15 an hour.
    2, get rid of the cpc card that costs drivers money ,why have a cpc card to prove I can drive a hgv ,I have a driving licence for that to show I’m competent to drive .
    3,move the age from when you need a yearly medical from 65 to 70..
    Worst move this country did was let drivers from other countries to come to the UK to work .

  16. Mark Harris


    I’m a Hgv Driver, no to extended hrs! Better pay and Conditions will cure the shortfall! As for bikes we’ll 89%of them should not be able to breed!!

  17. Silver Fox


    After reading this article I felt the urge to discuss this article with a road haulier whom I know so I would at least be better informed to comment!

    Simply put regarding cyclists he and everyone in haulage and indeed anyone paying road tax etc should be perplexed at the fact that the people paying to use the road have less rights than those not paying. Where is the sense in that?
    The most intelligent of people seem to lose thousands of brain cells once they get on their bikes. A fully loaded artic weighs 44 tonnes, self preservation should tell you to get out of the way. Instead cyclists think the road is a God given right for them and them alone. Holding up lines of traffic while they create chaos and long tail backs. Not to mention the “Environmental Impact” of having a loaded truck burning extra fuel trying to get back up to speed once again. Does anyone of them realise the amount of energy it takes to slow an artic down and how much more energy(fossil fuels) it takes to get back to the restricted cruising speed?

    One other point, you say 3% of vehicles on the road are lorries, remember one simple fact. 100% of everything is delivered in, or or by a lorry. Everything inside and outside everyone’s front door was delivered by lorry including the house itself and the car outside including the bike. Some commodities would have had multiple lorry journeys e.g. milk( distribution-4.supermarket) timber(1.forest-2.mill-3.-furniture showroom-6.home) and the list goes on etc.etc.etc.
    The fact that lorries are involved in statistically more accidents is simply, a lorry spends far more time on the road. Average road users clock up around 5,000-8,000 miles per year. Lorries in excess of 100,000 per year.
    And remember this, HGV drivers (3%are considered PROFESSIONALS which means that there are effectively 97% unprofessional drivers on our roads.
    Obviously when you add in other professionals e.g. police, ambulance, etc. the figure of 3% rises but even if it changed to 15% that’s still 85% “unprofessional” drivers on the road. Now that’s a scary thought.

  18. Glenn flood


    On reply why to extending the heavy goods driving the government really should do away with with the CPC card that’s cost in driver’s every 5 year 3 to £400 it cost enough to go through a test and get your licence in the first place without the government taking more money off lorry driver my opinion if you spent 2 of £3,000 going for a class 1 licence why should you have to go and sit on courses to tell you how to drive the vehicle all that should be done in on your learning to the test that is my why a lot of drivers are doing other jobs and plus a lot of these big lorry firms do not appreciate the drivers like firms used to nowaday you got to be there before you left I’m with a lot of bosses on the phone every 5-minutes lot of drivers not appreciated they should be left to get on with the job and that be that thank you very much and goodbye

  19. ED JONES


    Extended hours is this another SMART idea like SMART motorways it would be a lot more productive in solving the driver shortage if the places we delivered to got us tipped and away on time many times I have arrived to unload to be told ‘we are ALL going to lunch now!’. RDCs have kept me there 7 hours before now Stanford Lee hope over 4 hours then I’m short on time to get somewhere safe to park.
    A SMART driver will be looking for another career.

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