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Between increased driver requirements and rising fuel costs, not much has been going well for UK lorry drivers in recent years. However, some good news has come their way thanks to a brand-new law that will level the playing field for drivers whose vehicles are registered in the UK. The new law, which is set to go into effect as of April 1 (2013), imposes a levy on trucks registered outside the UK.

For decades, HGV and LGV vehicles have had free use of UK roads regardless of where they were registered. That was a disadvantage to the UK lorry driver travelling outside the country who would then have to pay fees to travel the roads of other European jurisdictions. Their European counterparts, however, could still travel within the UK for free.

The result of the old regulations saw domestic logistics operations and company drivers paying to maintain UK roads through regular business taxes while also paying to maintain the roads in other European countries through HGV levies and tolls. Now foreign HGVs and LGVs will be contributing to maintain the UK roads through the levy they will have to pay.

The new levy will be based on time spent driving in the UK. The lorry driver can pay £10 per day or £1,000 per year. The excise tax only applies to heavy vehicles weighing in access of 12 tonnes.

Independent Drivers Benefit the Most

The new law benefits the entire logistics and transport industry in the UK, but none as much as the independent driver who owns and operates his or her own lorry. Independent drivers often fill the role of long-distance haulers taking cargo from UK seaports to destinations all across Europe. While it will not necessarily reduce the tolls and fees they pay, it will level the playing field between themselves and their foreign counterparts.

That level playing field will help the UK trucking industry remain viable and competitive into the future because foreign operations will not be able to undercut UK drivers by offering lower rates. It is a law that was much needed, especially at a time when the economy remains stagnant across Europe.

The law is also welcomed by those drivers who have been considering whether to get out of the business because of new licensing requirements set to kick in next year. Some drivers have said the expense of the training required to keep up with those new requirements would be cause for them to retire or look for a new line of work. With a more competitive international market, some might be tempted to change their minds.

Young people looking to start their careers would do well to think about earning their HGV licence to become commercial lorry operators. It is a career that pays good money and provides plenty of job security well into the future. Individuals can choose to be independent operators or company drivers working for freight haulers, logistics companies, construction companies, and heavy equipment operations.

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