The testing process for HGV licences is to be simplified in an effort to tackle the shortage of lorry drivers.
“Streamlining” of the driving test should create an additional 20,000 appointments per year, according to the Department for Transport and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
The country has been hit by a shortage of qualified HGV drivers, resulting in supply issues for businesses.
The DfT says by removing some elements of the test and simplifying the testing process it should speed up the process significantly.
Drivers will now only have to sit one test for both a rigid and articulated lorry, rather than two separate tests spaced three weeks apart.
The tests will also be shorter due to the removal of the reversing exercise and the coupling and uncoupling exercise. The DfT says this will allow examiners to carry out one additional test per day. The two exercises will still be assessed separately by a third party.
The changes also affect car drivers, who will no longer need to sit a separate car and trailer test if they wish to tow, which the DfT says will free up 30,000 testing spaces a year.
The agencies insist that the changes will not affect driver standards or safety.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “From Inverness to St Ives, HGV drivers are helping to keep the country running, and have been throughout the pandemic. The shortage of drivers is a global problem, but we’ve been taking action here in the UK to help industry leaders attract drivers and build a more resilient sector.
“We’ve already delivered 50 per cent more tests than were available before the pandemic, but today’s additional measures will deliver up to 50,000 more a year, helping more and more people to kickstart their career as a well-paid HGV driver.”