Driver shortage crisis mounts

Related tags Large goods vehicle

You know how bad news nearly always seems exaggerated by the media -- that is, until you are faced with just that problem yourself. Well, it happened...

You know how bad news nearly always seems exaggerated by the media -- that is, until you are faced with just that problem yourself. Well, it happened to me when we started work with a company with 1,700 goods vehicles based at 625 locations around UK. The company's job is to deliver from local stocks to local customers. Most journeys are under 20 miles and there are several deliveries per load and several loads per vehicle per day.

This company is suffering 37% a year driver "churn" and has been forced to strike a deal with a national personnel agency to provide temporary replacement resources while recruitment goes on. But, the temporary nature of the replacement is being compromised by the difficulty of finding a permanent replacement and the agency drivers do not know the products or customers. This is leading to poor productivity, much higher costs and many disappointed customers.

We are having to revise the ways drivers are used and employed, increasing basic pay and other benefits and regionalising employment. This will improve day-to-day flexibility since the regional group will be big enough for us to carry some "spare" resources in a way that the local solution could not afford. But we do not know how to address the problem of driver shortages.

The Freight Transport Association, is warning the industry that it needs to find up to 80,000 more lorry drivers now! When the European Working Time Directive starts in March 2005 things can only get worse. At least one big third-party logistics provider is recruiting drivers from new European Union states and training them to speak English.

Over the last decade the number of applicants for a heavy goods vehicle test has dropped by almost a half. There are several reasons offered for this, but traffic congestion, associated stress and shortened life expectancy are often quoted as issues which are not addressed by wages alone. There is a particular problem finding van drivers prepared to make multiple drops in urban areas.

Market forces alone will not provide a solution.

Tim Knowles

is Director, ProActive

Related topics Supply Chain IT Services

Related products

Carbon Reduction for Large Energy Users

Carbon Reduction for Large Energy Users

Content provided by ESB Energy | 12-Nov-2021 | Product Brochure

ESB Energy Business Solutions can help you meet your companies carbon targets by 2050. We offer a range of sustainable tailored solutions to reduce the...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast