6 Surprising Facts About HGVs and Haulage in the UK

On both the motorways and smaller roads of the country, you’ve doubtless had the experience of driving alongside HGVs. Some HGVs are branded from end to end in splashy graphics, while others are mysterious in their blank grey utility. (This is, in fact, an excellent way to occupy kids on long journeys – get them involved in a rousing game of ‘guess what the HGV is hauling’!) HGVs are so common on roads in the UK that we risk overlooking their presence. This does them a disservice, as these hard-working vehicles play a vital role in our economy and even our lifestyles. Here, The LGV Training Company put together some interesting HGV-related facts:

1) Virtually All UK Goods Travel Via Road

We start with a simply astonishing number. It’s the percentage of goods consumed in the UK that rely on road transport to reach their destination, and it sits at a nearly-unbelievable 98 per cent. Practically everything we buy, use, and consume comes to us via road transport. It’s almost inconceivable to think about the damage that would be done to the UK economy if that vital link were removed. Both finished goods and parts used to create products here in the UK come to us from foreign countries; this is one reason why Brexit is so worrying to the haulage industry.

2) HGV Operation Accounts for 100,000s of Jobs

Roughly 600,000 UK residents work as drivers (of HGVs and other vehicles) in the haulage industry. It’s an interesting community of professionals, and demographic figures reveal some potential improvements to be made. The haulage industry has a startling gender gap; only 1.2 per cent of HGV drivers are female. Although that employment number looks impressive, it falls short of the full needs of the industry. There’s an ongoing shortage of qualified HGV drivers in the UK. Companies that employ drivers estimate that finding the right candidates will lead to a long delay in filling 36 per cent of their job vacancies. And they further estimate that 15 per cent of their vacancies simply will never be filled.

3) A Vast Industry Supporting Road Transport

Hopefully, the figures already presented go a long way toward explaining why the haulage industry is an enormous part of the UK economy. The industry as a whole employs far more people than just drivers. The workers who load and unload HGVs, operate warehouses, plan transport schedules, and handle every aspect of logistics all fall under the wide umbrella of the transport industry. Taken all together, the hard-working professionals who support HGVs swell the total employment figure of the haulage industry in the UK to roughly 2.5 million people. For a little perspective, that puts the industry as the fifth-largest employer in the nation, exceeded only by the NHS, the military, and HMRC.

4) An Enormous Economic Engine

The haulage sector doesn’t just account for huge employment numbers. It also holds sway over a huge amount of capital and generates huge profits. The latest estimates suggest that the haulage industry contributes £124 billion to the country’s economy. Numbers like this make it easy to say, without exaggeration, that transport is the backbone of the UK economy. The amount of money made by haulage in the UK is vast, and it’s increasing every year. But Brexit stands before this industry as an enormous roadblock of uncertainty, casting any predictions of stability into doubt.

5) An Aging Workforce

Although the demographics of the HGV driver population were briefly touched on above, they bear some closer examination. Drivers come from every gender and community in the country. Some HGV drivers stick with the job from school to retirement, while others come to haulage after starting in other careers. As it stands today, the average age of the UK’s HGV drivers is 48. That suggests even greater problems filling driver vacancies in the future. The forecast is further clouded by the fact that 13 per cent of UK HGV drivers are EU nationals who may well leave the country following Brexit.

6) Moving Both Volume and Weight

Finally, it’s worth considering the first part of the HGV name. These are heavy goods vehicles, and some of them transport heavy goods indeed. Right now, there are more than half a million commercial vehicles registered in the UK that weigh 3.5 tonnes or more. That is, coincidentally, the same weight as an African elephant in its adolescent years. Roughly half of those heavy vehicles (about 250,000) are currently being driven by professionals whose expertise is verified by their RHA (Road Haulage Association) membership.