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Would-be van drivers put off by negative perceptions

Key concerns about working conditions for professional drivers is putting Brits off from driving for living.

The research found Brits generally have a bad impression of van drivers

Research carried out by Lanes Group Careers among 795 working-age people found that although 76% see themselves as good or excellent drivers, and 62% find driving enjoyable, only 13% have ever considered becoming a haulier, taxi driver or any other job that involves driving.

Carried out to identify potential barriers that might be stopping people from pursuing this type of career, the survey found 55% said they were unwilling to take a job that involved sitting in traffic all day, while 32% saw the role as lonely and isolating, and 23% were concerned about the prospect of being away from home for long periods of time.

Similarly, 19% worried about the potential negative impact on their home or family lives, while 18% believed the hours would be too long, and 17% were put off by the fact that many drivers have to work as self-employed professionals.

Only 6% of those surveyed cited bad impressions of the profession as a factor putting them off, while the views expressed about people who currently drive for a living were shown to be generally neutral, or moderately positive.

However, the research did find that drivers tended to have a more negative outlook on van drivers. When asked for their views, 45% said they saw van drivers unfavourably, compared to only 18% who viewed them favourably. Negative views of van drivers were often attributed to a perception that they are rude and aggressive behind the wheel, with several commenters accusing van drivers of “thinking they own the road” – a statement that was also made about taxi drivers.

By contrast, lorry drivers saw a much more even balance between positive (35%) and negative (31%) views, with opinions on taxi drivers skewed favourably (38% positive vs 25% negative). Meanwhile, an overall majority of respondents (57%) had a favourable impression of bus and coach drivers.

The research has been published as the new Van Excellence report flags up the worsening driver shortage and warns that van drivers and fleets are becoming concerned that it could prevent their businesses operating successfully over the next year.

The report outlines that the number of people identifying as a professional van driver fell 5.5% last year while research carried out by Mercedes-Benz Vans has found one in five van drivers, operators or owners believes a van driver shortage could prevent their businesses operating successfully over the next year.

Commenting on its own research, Lanes Careers Group said more work needed to be done to overcome negative perceptions of professional drivers.Debi Bell, head of HR services at Lanes Group, said: “This survey indicates that the majority of working-age people in the UK have everything they need to succeed in professional driving roles in terms of skills and confidence, but too many are being put off by negative perceptions about the type of work this would involve.

“At a time when the UK is experiencing a nationwide shortage of professional drivers spanning multiple sectors, this means that businesses of all sizes are missing out on an untold number of potentially capable candidates.

“Professional driving offers all sorts of opportunities for rewarding work, regardless of your prior career background; what’s more, there are also many roles available that offer long-term security and stability, and that do not depend on working the long hours that many associated with this type of work. Employers should be looking at ways to address these preconceptions if they want to broaden their pool of driving talent.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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