Motoring law changes could see 18-year-olds driving buses and taking HGV theory tests

Motoring law changes could see 18-year-olds driving buses and taking HGV theory tests

WATCH: Grant Shapps on HGV rules

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 12/04/2024

- 12:57

The consultation will end at 11.59pm on June 5, 2024

Young drivers could be given the chance to get behind the wheel of a bus or coach under new proposals, as well as being able to take the theory test for heavy goods vehicles.

With the ongoing issue of driver shortages, the Government has launched a consultation asking whether young people could be an option to plug the gap.

One of the proposals includes removing the 50km restriction to bus and coach drivers if they are aged between 18 and 20 and travelling on a regular service.

Another would be to allow a person to undertake the theory and off-road manoeuvres tests required to gain their driver certificate of professional competence (DCPC) before being granted a provisional bus, coach or HGV driver entitlement.

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HGV driving

One MP said the new rules could be a 'win-win' for the economy


The Department for Transport has acknowledged that training and licensing requirements are different between passenger buses and HGV sectors.

It said the second proposal could be applied to people doing tests for either type of driving.

Roads minister Guy Opperman said: "Being a bus, coach or lorry driver can be an excellent career for young people and these proposals could help get younger talent into transport, encouraging diversity in the sector.

He added that it could be a "win-win" for the economy by improving opportunities and helping ease the driver shortages.

The Conservative MP for Hexham also said the changes could deliver more reliable bus and coach services, in addition to the creation of a more resilient supply chain.

As part of the proposals, the Government said that since most local bus routes are less than 50km, young drivers would be able to boost the number of rural services.

The new provisions could allow for the development of a greater number of bus routes, as well as making them more frequent to benefit local communities.

However, it also acknowledged that removing restrictions could lead to an increase in the number of road traffic accidents.

Data has shown that young drivers aged between 17 and 24 account for six per cent of driving licence holders but were involved in 28 per cent of fatal and serious collisions in 2022.

This is believed to stem from overconfidence behind the wheel as well as underestimating the patience and attention needed to be a competent driver.

The DfT consultation is also calling for views from drivers and industry experts on the impact of amending licencing restrictions on the HGV sector.

Chris Yarsley, senior policy manager for road freight regulation at Logistics UK, said the measures would help kickstart a new generation of HGV drivers.

Learner driver

Younger motorists have been identified as a potential answer to the driver shortage


However, he acknowledged that it is not as simple as getting behind the wheel of a HGV or bus and knowing how to operate it, hence the large number of regulations in place.

The expert said the industry would work with the Government to ensure drivers looking to get into the field have the necessary training and that they are still compliant.

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