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TEENS could be driving trucks as Britain faces a massive shortage of drivers to deliver groceries across the country

YOUTH could soon be allowed to drive trucks and heavy vehicles to fill UK delivery driver gap.

Large vehicles such as lorries, vans and minibuses could have teenagers behind the wheel if current regulations change to deal with the UK’s shortage of delivery drivers.

Teens could soon be allowed to drive trucks if a 25-year-old rule changes

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Teens could soon be allowed to drive trucks if a 25-year-old rule changesPhoto credit: Getty

The UK is currently subject to the EU standards it signed onto 25 years ago – this bans newly qualified drivers from operating certain vehicles.

Changing that rule could help close the UK’s 100,000 lorry driver gap, according to Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey, who proposed the idea last month.

Many blame older truckers retiring during the Covid-19 pandemic and many European drivers not returning to the UK after Brexit for the massive driver shortages.

The large amount of vacancies has delayed the delivery of fuel, groceries and other items over the past year, causing huge delays and chaos at gas stations.

Fuel pumps were hit the hardest in September, when the roads ground to a halt due to huge queues for petrol.

Supply chain problems even threatened the supply of alcohol and certain Christmas gifts.

And delivery drivers have been heroes during the pandemic, as key supermarket workers delivered groceries straight to customers’ doors.

But some government officials fear the decision to change driving rules would spark an outcry from road safety activists.

Most read in The Irish Sun

As the transition progresses, there could be fears that the roads could become more dangerous as younger, inexperienced drivers put their foot on the pedals of larger vehicles.

Currently, drivers who passed their test after 1997 – when the regulation was adopted by the EU – face a lot of red tape to drive larger vehicles.

These younger drivers with driving licenses from 1997 are only allowed to drive vehicles up to 3,500 kg with up to eight passengers, with a trailer up to 750 kg.

In order to drive a truck or van weighing up to 7,500 kg, younger drivers now have to pass theory and practical tests.

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For minibuses, drivers can drive a vehicle with a maximum of 16 passengers if it weighs less than 3,500 kg.

But the driver must be at least 21 years old and have held a driver’s license for at least two years – and they cannot be paid to drive it.

Driving a minibus with a trailer is even more difficult, as drivers need a medical clearance from their GP and must pass a two-part theory test and a 90-minute practical test.

Coffey wants to scrap this 25-year-old EU rule to make it easier for all drivers to handle heavy vehicles.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has yet to approve the rule change.

Supermarkets have apparently welcomed the proposal with open arms, hoping it could end their desperate battle over drivers.

The rule change would also save thousands of supermarket delivery drivers hours of training to drive larger vehicles.

Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “Restoring the license rights that drivers held before 1997 is certainly the quickest and easiest way the government can try to address the shortage of van and truck drivers.

Businesses will know that handing the keys to a seven-ton truck to a new driver isn’t as easy as it sounds

Edmund KingPresident of the AA

“However, reputable companies know that handing the keys to a seven-ton truck to a new driver isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“Substantial and meaningful training is still needed to ensure road safety standards do not drop.

“Small trucks are equipped with more safety equipment than ever before, making them easier to drive compared to those of 25 years ago, but driving one is still a big responsibility and safety shouldn’t be compromised.”

Another proposed option to solve the delivery driver shortage is to switch to TÜV inspections.

A rule change could mean that drivers only have to have their vehicles tested every two years instead of annually.

The move could save drivers £54.85 a year, but critics have warned it would make Britain’s roads more dangerous and lead to higher repair bills.

https://www.thesun.ie/motors/8762804/teens-could-drive-lorries-uk-delivery-driver-shortage/ TEENS could be driving trucks as Britain faces a massive shortage of drivers to deliver groceries across the country

Fry Electronics Team

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