The UK government has outlined plans for novice drivers to be allowed to automatically drive trucks.
The radical idea has subsequently been condemned by the UK’s leading independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart.
It has been suggested that drivers with a category B car licence should be instantly entitled to a category C1 licence.
Therefore, it would also motorists to drive vehicles that weighed up to 7.5 tonnes.
As a result, 18-year-old drivers could be allowed to drive large trucks without any further training.
Novice drivers have been suggested as a solution to the backlog of tests for examiners.
In other words, it would enable more truck drivers to be on the road amid ongoing supply chain issues.
According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey, the UK’s large goods vehicle (LGV) driver shortage remains chronic.
For example, the number of LGV drivers in employment is estimated to have fallen by 30,300 in the first quarter of 2022.
This figure represents an 11% decrease from the 268,000 LGV drivers who were employed in June 2021.
However, IAM RoadSmart has warned strongly against the proposal.
It has asserted, for example, that trucks pose a larger risk to road users if training is not provided.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, outlined the problems with the plans.
“Research has revealed that larger vehicles pose a higher risk to other road users,” he said.
“So, it is critical that those who drive them possess the necessary skills and training to drive them safely.
“And yet, this proposal would allow a potentially high risk 18-year-old to legally drive a lorry – without necessary training, guidance or experience.
“In our view, these plans present a totally unacceptable risk to the safety of all road users.”