18-year-olds now allowed to drive lorries
From today (10 September 2009), 18-year-olds will be permitted to drive lorries. Until now, the minimum LGV driving age was 21, but this has been lowered across the European Union to try and encourage more young people into the haulage industry.
BBC Radio 1’s newsbeat reports the story of Adam, an 18-year-old who works for his father’s waste company. Until now he’s been helping out, knowing that it would probably be a while before he got to drive the lorries himself. But today, he took his first lesson in an LGV.
Adam said: “I was over the moon that I could do it. It’s just better money, it’s just better everything. It means more responsibility.”
He says the lessons are hard: “They make you reverse into really tight gaps, it’s quite nerve-wracking. You’ve got to drive around narrow streets, you feel a bit worried about what you’re doing. But it’s all good.”
An extra qualification has also been brought in – the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), and all professional lorry drivers will need to have one. For more information on Driver CPC, click here.
But even with all the extra training, is 18 still too young to drive a vehicle of this size? Adam doesn’t think so: “I should be alright because I’ve got more driving experience anyway. Driving this means I should be a better driver for later on in the future.”
Jo Tanner from the Freight Transport Association (FTA) also thinks 18 is a suitable age: “You don’t get many people trying to do a hand-brake turn in an HGV. There are no boy racers behind the wheel of an HGV truck but there may well be behind the wheel of a souped-up hatchback.”
However, concerns have been expressed about just how many driving jobs are out there for teenagers who do get their licence.
Jo said this should improve once the recession’s over: “Sadly there have been an awful lot of redundancies in the industry, so when the recession is over we’re concerned there’ll be a severe skills shortage because the older drivers will have gone into retirement.
“So having these younger drivers come in now and get trained up, so they’ll be ready and raring to go when the jobs are there, is great news.”
Claire Wilmot, Managing Director of Latics Driver Training believes otherwise: “Statistically, the 17 to 24-year-old age group is of the highest risk, mainly due to poor decsion-making by the driver. Allowing 18-year-olds an LGV licence could potentially have disasterous consequences if the wrong decision is made behind the wheel. There’s a big difference between the outcome of crashing a small car and crashing an LGV.”
What do you think?
Source: BBC Website