A series of freedom of information requests by Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union has revealed huge cuts in independent roadside inspections of lorries, potentially putting all road users in danger.

Huge fall in inspections

Unite has discovered that the number of road side inspections/checks involving heavy goods vehicles (HGV), being undertaken by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has fallen by 37 per cent from 234,296 in 2010/11 to 147,533 in 2017/18.

During this time there has been no decrease in lorry journeys. In fact in 2016 the Department for Transport (DfT) recorded that in 2016 HGV’s undertook a record 19.2 billion kilometres of journeys.

0.03 per cent chance of inspection

The DfT has revealed that there were approximately 534 million HGV journeys in the UK, which means that there is just a 0.03 per cent chance of a lorry being stopped for an on the spot inspection, on each journey.

The decrease in inspections corresponds with an increase in fatalities of HGV drivers which increased by 50 per cent in 12 months from 14 in 2016 to 21 in 2017. The total number of all road deaths involving HGV’s in the UK in 2017 was 263.

Government austerity cuts

The reduction in inspections is thought to be linked to the government’s austerity policies which have seen a huge reduction across Whitehall including at the DfT and its agencies.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “These figures are truly shocking and the stark result of the government’s obsession with austerity.

“By cutting inspectors and inspections the government is risking the safety of all road users.

“While the majority of HGVs are well maintained, those that do not meet the necessary standards could potentially cause accidents, with tragic results.  It also means that drivers who are prepared to break driving hours rules are also unlikely to be identified.

“If unscrupulous employers realise that there is little possibility of their vehicles and drivers being inspected, they are more likely to be tempted to cut corners on safety.

“It is clear that as the number of lorry journeys increase, not only do these cuts in inspections need to be reversed but they need to increase from the 2010 levels as a result of increased lorry journeys.”


Notes to editors:

Sharp rise in hidden lorry driver deaths

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.