Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury says the limited number of driving test slots available is making it difficult for new truck drivers to enter the industry.
Currently, that sector of the economy is ‘crying out for them’ according to Labour’s Mike Amesbury.
It’s estimated the UK is 100,000 drivers short of requirement, with a large number of haulage firms located in the Runcorn – part of Mr Amesbury’s Weaver Vale constituency.
Mr Amesbury said it is frustrating, and that he has been contacted by more than 20 constituents retraining as lorry drivers but being met with long waiting lists to get a test.
He said: “I recognise the pandemic may have slowed down driver testing, but I understand the main issue now is a national shortage of driving test examiners.
“This is something the government is belatedly starting to address although I fear it may be too little too late to avoid a crisis.
“This is at a time when many people were encouraged to retrain because of the economic impact of Covid-19. But some trainee lorry drivers are having to wait 12-14 weeks for a driving test slot.”
He added: “I understand the whole process, from start to finish, now takes six months or more because of all the delays in the system when traditionally it could be done in two months.”
There was concern when a lorry driver training and testing centre closed at Widnes Business Park in Mr Amesbury’s neighbouring constituency of Halton.
But the firm actually relocated nearby and is seeking accreditation from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to begin driver testing again in the near future.
Mr Amesbury also fears transport secretary Grant Shapps is seeking a ‘quick fix’ to the national driver shortage in an industry problem exacerbated by Brexit and Covid19, as many foreign lorry drivers have returned home to their families.
The government wants to temporarily allow existing truck drivers to work longer hours and is even considering diluting driver standards, according to Mr Amesbury.
The MP said: “I’m sorry but this is madness. These proposals are just not safe for truck drivers, other road users or pedestrians.
“Unite, the union, proposes making the sector more attractive to new entrants through the creation of a national council to promote decent pay rates and working conditions.
“It’s shocking to hear about a lack of access to basic facilities like toilets for drivers who are working long hours – sometimes away from home – but who almost literally keep the wheels of commerce turning.”