Many British lorry drivers believe that the government is worsening drivers’ lives. Since July, lorry drivers have been working longer hours, due to Boris Johnson’s government temporarily relaxing the rules over working limits to help tackle the shortage of HGV (heavy goods vehicle) operators. This change to working hours was expected to be scrapped next month, but ministers are said to now be easing restrictions until the end of January to help avert a supply crisis.
The Unite union, which represents thousands of drivers, has condemned this ongoing change as being dangerous for drivers’ safety, adding that it is now seeking legal advice on the matter.
The limit was previously 56 hours a week, usually worked out by driving for nine hours on four days, and 10 hours for another two days. Under the temporary relaxation, working times increased to ten hours a day, with drivers allowed to work 11 hours twice a week.
“Even the previously allowed 56 hours of driving is incredibly tiring” says one lorry driver, who splits his time driving for agencies in north London and Yorkshire. “You use so much brain power, it’s unsafe to do any more. What is the political fallout going to be when there’s a crash on the road and it’s because of an exhausted driver who fell asleep? While out driving trucks, I’ve seen lorries swerving from one side of the road to the other, and I know they’re falling asleep.”
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