Karin Smyth MP questions Government decision to change test requirements for new HGV drivers

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, has questioned a government proposal to change test requirements for new HGV drivers. This, along with plans to extend working hours for transportation workers, could have damaging consequences for safety on the roads.

Smyth wrote to Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Transport in early September, expressing her concerns at the plans to change safety requirements for HGV drivers. Of particular concern was a proposal to allow car drivers who have qualified since 1997 to tow a trailer over 3,500kg.

Smyth has long campaigned on trailer safety after a constituent was killed by a runaway trailer in Bedminster. The Government previously recognised the importance of her campaign, but the new proposals raise risks for all of the positive achievements of the campaign.

The Labour Party is calling on the Government to address driver shortages in the HGV sector through appointing a Minister for the supply chain crisis, working with businesses and unions to improve terms and conditions of contracts, and making it easier for drivers from abroad to fill short-term vacancies rather than piling more pressure on exhausted drivers and risking road safety.

Karin Smyth is concerned that these proposals will put at risk the work of the trailer safety campaign and during a recent Urgent Question urged the Secretary of State for Transport to arrange a briefing between his department and Ms Smyth.

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:

“I was deeply concerned to hear about the Government’s proposals to address HGV driver shortages. Long-term problems in the HGV sector will not be solved by making drivers work longer hours and changing test requirements for new drivers, and it threatens to put so many people at risk on the roads.

“Since 2014 I have been campaigning for safer towing, but I now fear that these new proposals will put at risk all the positive progress that has been made in highlighting trailer safety.

“During an Urgent Question in Parliament, I urged the Secretary of State to arrange a meeting between myself, his officials and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Trailer Safety. We cannot slide backwards on the progress we have made as it will put people’s lives at risk.”