Driver shortage may leave haulage industry standing

The haulage industry is facing a driver shortage because many are leaving
the sector over concerns about long hours, traffic and poor earnings.

A study by Lex Transfleet finds that 35 per cent of drivers will have left
the industry or retired by 2007 and few young people are interested in joining
the sector.

The research reveals that nearly a third of drivers are fed up with traffic
congestion, 20 per cent resent the unsociable hours and 11 per cent think they
are underpaid. This situation is causing haulage firms severe recruitment

In all, 71 per cent of transport fleet managers surveyed by Lex Transfleet
have concerns about skill shortages and 57 per cent of fleet managers have
encountered difficulties recruiting drivers.

The report predicts that driver shortages will become worse when the
forthcoming EU Working Time Directive becomes law for drivers in 2005,
restricting their hours to an average of 48 hours a week. The Freight Transport
Association (FTA) estimates the cost of introducing the directive will be
£1.5bn per year and 17 per cent of fleet managers questioned believe they could
go out of business as a result.

Lex Transfleet, which manages almost 30,000 commercial vehicles and supplies
drivers on behalf of its customers, has launched several initiatives to combat
the problem of driver shortages. These include a programme to recruit younger
drivers, developing mature driver training programmes, addressing wage
differentials, and establishing driving clubs.

David Smith, managing director of Lex Transfleet, said: "According to
our research the average truck driver surveyed had been in the industry for 15
years. However, long hours and a perceived lack of money has meant that fewer
younger people are drawn to becoming drivers."

By Quentin Reade

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