Proposed changes to driving-licence rules could grant you the right to drive a truck weighing up to 7.5 tonnes, with no further training
A shake-up of driving-licence rules that would allow motorists with a standard car driving licence to drive HGVs has been proposed by the Government.
The move follows the shortage of HGV drivers that became apparent during the coronavirus pandemic, and is made possible by the UK having left the European Union.
A call for evidence from the Department for Transport (DfT) is inviting responses from individuals and organisations on a number of changes to HGV licensing, the most significant of which asks whether anyone with a standard ‘Category B’ car driving licence should be automatically granted a ‘C1’ licence, which would allow them to drive an HGV weighing up to 7.5 tonnes and with a trailer weighing up to 750kg.
The proposed changes would also give anyone with a Category B car licence a D1 licence, allowing them to drive a minibus of up to eighth metres in length, with up to 16 seats, and with a trailer of 750kg or less.
Rather than being an all-new proposal, the changes would actually reinstate how the licence system operated prior to 1 January 1997. People who passed their test before that date are typically able to drive a minibus, or an HGV weighing up to 7.5 tonnes (plus the trailer allowances), while those who passed their test after that date are limited to vehicles weighing 3.5 tonnes or less.
The DfT is clear that the proposals are just that, saying “we have not made up our minds to do any of this”, and that any changes would “need to ensure continued safe use of our road”. There could also be minimum age requirements for car drivers to be able to pilot 7.5-tonne trucks, or motorists could need to have held their car licence for a minimum number of years before being able to drive 7.5-tonne trucks.
There is also no suggestion that a standard car licence would enable motorists to drive larger articulated lorries, but rather rigid-bodied vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tonnes – though these are still classified as HGVs, or heavy goods vehicles.
Other proposed changes include publishing a register of HGV instructors and their pass rates, and allowing mechanics who have held Category C HGV licences to drive coaches (which have a separate licence requirement) for repair purposes.