A UK based lorry can, on average, travel the equivalent of three and a half times around the world without expecting to undergo an on-the-spot check. Unite, the UK’s leading union, which represents tens of thousands of lorry drivers, has established this shocking fact after a Freedom of Information request.

Lack of inspections

The lack of inspections would be alarming in normal circumstances, but these concerns are greatly heightened following the government’s decision to relax the cabotage rules in October, which allow lorries registered anywhere in the world to make an unlimited number of collections and deliveries during a 14 day period in the UK.

The only way that vehicles taking advantage of the relaxed cabotage regulations can be checked to ensure they are roadworthy and that the driver is following the lorry driving regulations is through an on-the-spot inspection.


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham saidThese figures are alarming and demonstrate that on-the-spot inspections of lorries and HGV drivers are vanishingly rare on the UKs roads.

 This has serious safety implications and the government needs to be explaining how it ensures that all lorries and HGV drivers on the UKs roads are doing so safely and abiding by the law.”

Large decline

In total there were 114,653 on-the-spot inspections made by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in 2020/21 to check on the road worthiness of their lorries and if the driver is abiding by the HGV driving regulations. The number of on-the-spot inspections carried out by the DVSA has declined by 39 per cent since 201/17 when 186,460 were undertaken.

In contrast the Department for Transport recorded that GB registered lorries undertook a staggering 10,066 billion miles of journeys in 2020.

This means that an on-the-spot inspection of an HGV only occurs on average once every 87,797 miles, which equates to a lorry driving three and half times around the earth without being stopped and inspected.

Shocking stats

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: Our professional lorry driver members, who abide by the rules, will be shocked by these figures. An unsafe lorry or a driver failing to follow the driving regulations has enormous safety implications for all road users.

 All road users should be seeking urgent reassurances that the companies who are taking advantage of the relaxation on the cabotage rules are doing so safely and complying with the law.”


 Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.