'You couldn't pay me enough': Lorry driver explains why no one wants to drive trucks in UK

27 September 2021, 12:43 | Updated: 28 September 2021, 09:20

Lorry drivers have left the profession due to working conditions.
Lorry drivers have left the profession due to working conditions. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A lorry driver has explained why no one wants to drive HGVs in the UK, as the country faces a fuel crisis due to ongoing shortages of HGV drivers.

Jim Titheridge, a former HGV driver of 30 years, shared his story in a Facebook post that went viral, explaining why he and many others would not return to the job they once loved. He said the conditions in the UK are far worse, and more expensive than on the continent, and that drivers in the UK are vilified, whereas in France their efforts are lauded.

"We were once seen as knights of the road," he said. "Now we are seen as the lepers of society."

Having grown up wanting to drive lorries, he was not aware of the "absolute abuse" his profession would get, but soon came to realise there was dwindling respect.

"First, it was the erosion of truck parking and transport cafés," he explained.

"Then it was the massive increase in restricting where I could stop, timed weight limits in just about every city and town.

"But not all the time, you can get there to do your delivery, but you can’t stay there, nobody wants an empty truck, nobody wants you there once they have what they did want."

And still, the driver found it was costing him money to do his job.

"I spent my nights away from my home and family for you, how much is it to ask that you at least give me access to some basic services," he asked.

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Mr Titheridge compared the conditions in the UK to what he had experienced abroad too, showing the stark reality of what it is like working in the industry.

In France, lorry drivers can park in nearly every town or village, have marked truck parking bays and small routiers to get a meal and a shower, he revealed.

"The locals respect me, and have no problems with me or my truck being there for the night."

Even at motorway services, parking is free, drivers can get 20 per cent off everything they purchase and they are able to jump queues because others know that they have limited time.

Meanwhile, in the UK, it costs between £25 and £40 to park somewhere overnight and there is dirty showers and overpriced food wherever they are allowed stop, Mr Titheridge explained.

"Not only have we been rejected from our towns and cities, but we have also suffered massive pay cuts, because of the influx of foreign drivers willing to work for a wage that is high where they come from," he went on to say.

However, the government has turned to foreign drivers once again during the crisis, recently announcing that they would be granted temporary visas to help.

Mr Titheridge has called on city and town councillors to stand up against the issues raised at their council meetings.

"It surely cannot be too much to ask of a town/city to provide facilities for those who are doing so much to make sure their economies run and their shops and businesses are stocked with supplies," he said.

"I never wanted any luxuries, just somewhere safe to park, and some basic ablutions that are maintained to a reasonable standard."

In a final call to the government, he said: "Do you want me to go back to driving trucks?

"Give me a good reason to do so.

"Give anyone a good reason to take it up as a profession.

"Perhaps once you work out why you can’t, you will understand why your shelves are not as full as they could be.

"I tried it for over 30 years, but will never go back, you just couldn't pay me enough."