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Can the UK keep on truckin’?

One thing there has been no shortage of in recent months is reports of a massive shortage of lorry drivers in the UK – we are down between 60,00 and 100,000 drivers according to most accounts. Of course, that is going to mean other shortages in the coming months, and lots of them. In fact, reports are already coming in from food companies and builders merchants about this very problem.

UK truck driver shortage can be alleviate by CarrierNet TMS - image to illustrate article

A whole raft of measures to mitigate the situation are being considered by various parties involved in the logistics industry. Haulage companies and organisations have been lobbying the government to ease visa rules for drivers from abroad to get temporary visas to work here after many left due to restrictive Brexit-related issues. It seems unlikely that the government will acquiesce to this, though they have already slightly relaxed the Drivers’ Hours rules, which increased drivers’ daily driving limit from 9 hours to 11 hours twice a week – though this measure is only in place until 8 August 2021. Obviously – and reasonably – extending driver hours has led to accusations that driver safety is being compromised on the one hand, and that the measure does little to solve the driver shortage problem on the other.

According to a BBC survey, the reasons we have such a driver shortage are, in order of magnitude:

  • Drivers retiring

  • Brexit-related

  • Reform of IR35 rules (how people working off the payroll pay tax)

  • Drivers moving to another industry

  • Pay rates

  • Covid-19

  • Other

Whatever the reasons, we think more can be done simply by improving the driver working environment.

An essential key performance indicator (KPI) for all successful transport operators is to ensure that they cater for their drivers’ needs. This is especially important in light of the current driver shortage. This doesn’t simply mean that they should pay their drivers more but that:

  • they are aware when their drivers need to have time off

  • their vehicles are regularly serviced

  • their paperwork is correct

  • they are supported while they are out on the road

To ensure that a transport operator retains its drivers most, if not of all, of their administrative tasks should be handled digitally and with little or no driver involvement. This leaves drivers free to concentrate on the primary task for which they were employed: delivering goods. Basically, all elements of driver support and administration should be delivered by a transport management system (TMS) that is part of a total transport ecosystem that can deliver whatever a transport operator could ever require.

If your TMS doesn’t deliver this outcome, please contact Bashir Khan about CarrierNet, which will deliver all the above and also maximise driver productivity by improving efficiency across the logistics spectrum.


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