Never was the truck driver shortage realized more than during the recent fuel panic buying that resulted in lineups at gas stations across the nation with people waiting for hours to purchase fuel. Even jerry cans were brought up as members of the public felt the necessity to resort to stockpiling..
Was Britain running out of fuel? To begin with, the initial influence from the public press had us believing so. But no, the nation had a steady supply of fuel. The shortage was actually the direct result of the systemic shortage of fuel tanker drivers for deliveries to petrol stations. That is why the military was summoned to help with fuel deliveries. Available supply but not enough drivers to haul it to stations.
Troubling Shortage of Qualified Drivers
The shortage of Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers has reached a troubling point throughout the U.K. An issue that has been present for sometime, but the pressure now felt to an extremity in the continued build up to one of the busiest times of the year, the festive period. The Road Haulage Association estimates the countries are facing a gap of 100,000 drivers who are not available to bring us everyday goods such as food and hygiene products, things we depend on regularly.
When these are unable to be delivered to stores, panic buying will surely begin for all sorts of products for stockpiling. How did Britain fall so far behind the rest of the world in training and employing the necessary numbers of lorry drivers?
There are several factors here. No doubt the pandemic has greatly affected all workforces including being directly responsible for the loss of some drivers. The backlog of drivers tests and license admissions has meant almost 30000 drivers who can drive and otherwise would be available are still waiting on the sidelines. And the trucking workforce is ageing and retiring faster than new drivers can be trained and employed. Retention of qualified drivers is also an ongoing issue as drivers leave to find other work.
Trucking’s Image Woes
There has been a lack of job appeal for drivers and this is an ongoing issue- whether it be lack of facilities at service stops, poor treatment from others, cab conditions and poor working environments. Drivers work long shifts in many cases for inadequate pay and home time is short, leaving truck drivers to spend much of their working lives alone and on the road.
Internal and external factors collectively influence a driver to hand in their keys and move on.
Bad weather is also a deterrent. Drivers have to be ready to go no matter the conditions. Even darkness is found to be tiring when drivers have to go into or through the night. Goods must be delivered. Many drivers leave the trade because of being paid by the mile or kilometer traveled. Trouble is, every day they face delays such as heavy traffic, detention times caused by shippers and receivers on pickups and deliveries and most drivers are not paid for delays and detention times and of course weather delays and breakdowns.
Other Important Issues
In some cases drivers must go to work in equipment that has not been regularly or properly maintained. Preventive maintenance is sometimes lax, even overlooked in the interest of earning revenue without having trucks laid up for maintenance issues. Driving is dangerous even with great maintenance. But it’s more so in shoddy equipment. This even though the industry is required to keep proper maintenance records for their vehicles.
There is no doubt the trucking industry in the U.K. has a black eye with workers that is likely to lead to supply chain issues.
Time for Change
We must become proactive in training and retaining quality drivers. And we need to work at changing the image of truck drivers in U.K. to make trucking more attractive both to new workers and former drivers.
Whilst an ongoing issue for several decades, small improvements have been made in most aspects of the transportation industry. The question is, are these changes enough and are they being felt at business, regional or a national level? It would appear that there needs to be a stronger and more unified front to set the new minimum quality standards for drivers to face and to also ensure that those who are willing to drive are provided with a clean route to do so. Internally, each business must understand the importance of a driver, as an asset and a human being, and continue to bring about more beneficial changes to benefit their fleet and workforce.
Bring Back Trucking Pride
Give your people good equipment to work in. Make sure to follow regular prescribed preventive maintenance schedules. Great equipment makes drivers feel proud to work with your fleet. Give some thought to these suggestions for improving the image of the U.K. truck driver.
Invest in a fleet management program to always stay on top of maintenance programs and related issues. We recommend EMDECS by BrightOrder for your fleet health and repair shop. It’s easy to use both by managers and technicians and it will help to streamline your workflow. Arrange a demo today to see it in action.
Help your fleet and drivers to become great and together we’ll ease supply chain issues. More ideas will be found in our next article. Have a splendid day.