The UK haulage sector is reporting HGV driver shortages of over 65,000 as the supply chain comes under increasing pressure in recent weeks.

Fuel stations across the UK have closed in recent days due to issues with fuel supply, David Savage, associate vice-president, UK and Ireland at Geotab, said that many long-standing issues are beginning to show.

He said: “With our attention drawn to the pandemic and the easing of restrictions, supply chain disruptions have taken a back seat in terms of the limelight, but many long-standing issues are coming to a head.

The run-up to Christmas always places a strain on the logistics sector but multiple factors are now coming to a head to create huge issues this year.

“In June, the UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) reported a shortage of 65,000 trained drivers which has been affecting the speed and cost of deliveries across the country.

“While the Department for Transport has implemented short-term solutions to address this issue in the form of temporarily adjusted driving limits and rest periods, while also considering onboarding members of the Army to plug the HGV shortage, these measures have a detrimental impact on the working conditions of drivers and are unsustainable in the long run.

“Even in the short term, these actions seem highly unlikely to provide the cover needed for this Christmas season and beyond.”

‘This problem is not going to disappear overnight’

“It takes years to train and recruit new personnel, as such this problem is not going to disappear overnight,” he added.

For now, the trick is to work smarter – drivers are already working to the legal limits, it’s not possible for them to work harder. Technology may offer possible solutions.

“In conjunction with an industry and government joint effort to recruit and train a homegrown driver workforce, the sector must also embrace and invest in driver optimisation tools.

“In-cab telematics enable more efficient deliveries, driver fatigue and performance management, and improved driver routing, all contributing to a fleet’s ability to deliver more goods.

“Companies, supported by the government, need to make such investments in low cost, high impact solutions to keep goods and services moving.”