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I touched last week on supply chain issues and although the UK Government’s tried to address these with changes to the regulations, its stance hasn’t gone down well with the British Safety Council, which boasts an international membership in more than 60 countries. The Council argues that the relaxation of the rules earlier this month, regarding how long lorry drivers can work, (as a temporary fix for the severe shortage of heavy goods vehicle operators) is compromising safety standards and is not the solution needed to address the issue. It believes that the relaxation of these road safety laws is adding more pressure on drivers who are already exhausted - and that this is unreasonably jeopardising road safety. “Over-tired drivers coming home from long shifts pose a real hazard to themselves and other road users,” warns its chief executive Mike Robinson. "Driver safety must not be compromised. It’s appalling that Government has ignored the views of the logistics industry, which has collectively condemned this measure on safety grounds."
In case you’re unfamiliar with the changes, HGV drivers are allowed to drive for an additional one hour/day, (from nine to 10 hours). Drivers can also undertake two 11 hour shifts/week. The temporary extension is due to end at midnight on 8th August 2021, but you know how these things go… it’s highly likely that it will be extended or perhaps even made permanent. While it’s clear we need to up transport hours, achieving this by increasing current drivers’ pressures (whose bosses are unlikely to give them a choice) isn’t the best way to do things – especially as these drivers will need to stay mentally alert enough to interpret and ensure they don’t fall foul of the ever-changing requirements regarding vaccinations and isolation periods! Years ago I overstretched myself on a marathon drive… I felt fine but realised when I was abruptly woken by a sudden swerve of my car, that I hadn’t been fine at all. It taught me a valuable lesson and one that the Government should already understand.
Business group Logistics UK has welcomed Government commitment to simplify training and deal with the backlog of some 25,000 drivers waiting to be tested, (yes - 25,000!) but is unhappy about the unfulfilled ‘promise’ made in 2018 to provide 1,500 extra overnight parking spaces in safe and secure locations for legally mandated rest stops. I’m assuming that toilets and showers are all part of the plan as these are badly needed too, with so many more public toilets seemingly permanently closed because of Coronavirus.
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29th July 2021