Well, here we go again, another government desk jockey has the answer to the truck driver shortage. They plan to rescind a law imposed upon us by the European Union back in January 1977 that imposed stricter licensing for truck drivers. Up until that date, anybody with an ordinary car driver’s licence could drive a truck up to 7.5-ton GVW. Going back to letting the ordinary man in the street, who up until then has only driven a Mini, now operate a 7.5-ton truck will not solve the driver shortage problem. It definitely will not ease the shortage of class one drivers. It seems that now we’re no longer part of the European Union, they want to be seen as creating our own laws.
Although they were quite happy to go along with the change in the law at the time, probably it was because it generated income for driving schools and doctors doing medicals, not forgetting government departments issuing the new licence classification. The government’s only answer to the driver shortage is to make it easier to get untrained bodies behind the wheel. The last brilliant idea from the people in charge was to make the class one test easier. They would only test drivers out on the road to ease the pressure on government testers and shorten the time the test took. The practical side of the test, i.e., hooking up to a trailer and demonstrating their reversing skills, would be outsourced to the money-making truck driving schools.
That was why the law was made in 1977. Often, members of the public overestimated their ability. For example, when I worked for the Scottish branch of an Irish company, the girl who worked in the office had a boyfriend who drove a van, and she convinced the manager to give him a job. His first mistake was to try and fill the cooling system with diesel, simply because on the van he used to drive, that’s the side the diesel filler was on. His second mistake was a little harder to overlook. He came from driving a small panel van to a 7.5-ton box-bodied van, so the writing was on the wall when he came into the yard after driving under a low bridge with the body tilted backwards at a rakish angle.
But I’m sure anybody thinking of moving house will be quite happy to be able to go and rent a bigger van when they’re moving house and want to save themselves some money. That’s where the title of this story comes from. In my home town of Glasgow, a flitting is when you’re moving house. If you didn’t know anybody who drove a big van, you could rent one and get a few able-bodied helpers to load and unload. Why pay a removal company big bucks to carry your furniture out of one house into a van and into the new house?
As a truck driver who used to get the company truck home after work, I did a few flittings for friends and family. My truck was a 26-foot curtain side at the time - not ideal for securing furniture, but things could be boxed in with heavier items. I never liked to take any money from my friends and family, but one day I was moving some furniture for one of our young office girls. Although the house she was moving from was three floors up, so there was quite a lot of walking up and down stairs, the one she moved into was better as I could get the truck right up to the door.
When the truck was empty, the young girl’s father came up, thanked me for my help and pressed a generous amount of cash into my hand. No matter how many times I said it was too much, he wouldn’t take it back. Some people like to pay for the services they receive, and it is nice to be appreciated.