News & Insights

How Decarbonising Logistics Can Help Delay Another HGV Driver Shortage

By Jonathan Kittow on 28/11/23 10:15 |


Over the course of the year, we have been delighted to welcome Kieran Smith from Driver Require to our supplier membership meetings to discuss their latest insights into driver trends.

The sector has been operating at a ‘chronic low-level shortage’, typically experiencing a shortage every year at peak when driver requirements increase 60% in the build-up to Christmas. With E-commerce volumes currently down and driver resource increased, demand is tame this Christmas. However, an increasingly alarming statistic records a large pool of drivers approaching retirement age with too few drivers in the under 45 demographic to replace them. HGV training has increased in recent years, but in 2020 235,000 license holders under 45 were no longer driving HGVs.

It was previously believed that a drop of 68,000 drivers to a low point of 233,000, in the pandemic (Q2 2021), triggered the driver crisis. Updated figures, originally distorted by changes to ONS job descriptions, now reveal that it was only a drop of 45,000 drivers that triggered the crisis. With a net attrition rate of 6,000 drivers a year, this new insight accelerates the timetable for the next potential driver crisis to just 7 years, from a previous prediction of 12 years.

In order to make the sector more attractive to drivers, conditions must keep improving, with the current rate of improvement too slow. Consulting with drivers and adjusting shift patterns and lengths to be more sociable has already proven effective.

Poor on-the-road facilities may also be tackled by the need to introduce new EV charging facilities, providing an opportunity for space to be dedicated to lorry parking and amenities. Currently, while some £100m government investment has been promised, the greatest strides in improving facilities have been where haulier-led collaborative ventures have opened up their own yards as rest areas.

A complex planning system is hampering investment and whilst government is seeking to reform these complexities, the pace of legislation is slow. It therefore seems unlikely the improvements needed will drastically alter driver retention or be delivered in the  time frame predicted for another driver crisis.

Logistics Decarbonisation has the Potential to Alleviate the Threat of Another Driver Crisis.

As electric HGVs are introduced more widely, the range and charging needs of HGVs has the potential to overhaul shift lengths, offer different working patterns around shorter distances and attract a more diverse pool of talent, as well as improve work-life balance.

Even more immediately, increasing load-fill, reducing empty running and moving trucks off the road and onto rail are essential strands of accelerating plans to reach net zero targets, all of which could also reduce the number of drivers and help alleviate the threat of another driver crisis.

Find out more about to Decarbonising Logistics initiative


Driver Crisis Decarbonising Logistics