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What do Zero and Low Emission Regulations Mean for Road Transport Businesses and Driver Training?

Blogs | 3rd Sep 2021

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), 27% of all UK emissions come from transport, with 91% coming from road transport*. It is clear as an industry we have to start making the change to alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) to cut emissions, and we have to start now!

The UK government has committed to cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 and to bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. To achieve that, the adoption of AFVs, both for commercial and private users, is rapidly gaining pace. So, what do you need to know about AFVs? And how might they affect your operation?

What is an AFV?

An AFV, or Alternatively Fuelled Vehicle, is one that is fuelled by a substance other than the traditional diesel or petroleum gas. There are a few different alternative fuels, and it’s an area that is continually evolving, but the most common options for road transport vehicles are electric (using batteries) and hydrogen.

What are the challenges of switching to AFVs for a road transport business?

Any type of change can be challenging for a business, and this is a particularly daunting one for many road transport and supply chain businesses. It will change the trucks themselves, how the trucks are operated, how they are fuelled, and poses many other considerations too. For instance:

  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), might seem like the obvious zero emission vehicle choice, and they certainly dominate in the light vehicle sector. The challenges of this route for HGV or large goods vehicles, however, lie in the requirement for a larger battery, adding excess weight to the already loaded vehicle, as well as unrealistic charging times
  • We will no longer be able to simply ‘fuel up and go’. Every journey will require even more thorough and detailed planning, as we have to take into consideration charging and maintenance requirements
  • Purchasing a truck in the future will become more complex, as it will not just be down to the fleet and procurement staff. It will now involve collaboration between many departments across a business, including fleet, procurement, CSR team, infrastructure, buildings, communications team, and training team

The good news is that the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan provides the road transport and supply chain industry with some much-needed clarity on a number of key issues including infrastructure, funding and milestones. This was published, after several delays, on 14th July 2021.

How does switching to AFVs impact LGV Driver Training?

Of course, road safety is incredibly important, and these major changes will change the scope of what needs to be covered in driver training. Currently, only Category B (car) drivers must complete a minimum of five hours specific training to learn how to drive an AFV from 3.5 tonnes to 4.25 tonnes. The DVSA recommends drivers also practice driving on the road following the five hours of training.

The training syllabus is designed to give a driver a better understanding of the following aspects of driving an AFV:

  • Road safety benefits
  • Fuel-saving driving techniques
  • Energy-saving driving techniques
  • Refuelling and the safety factors of alternative fuel types
  • Safe driving techniques
  • Safe loading
  • Vehicle handling technique

Currently there is no legislation or training guidance for HGV / LGV drivers specifically. However, as the technology evolves and transport fleets transition to AFVs, employers with their own in-house instructors, or instructors employed by training providers, will need suitable training programmes for safety. This will need to be based on the specific AFV fleet and the duties of the drivers being trained.

New RTITB AFV Driver Training Materials

One of the first steps for businesses transitioning to AFVs will be to select the right knowledgeable partners to collaborate with and make this evolution as seamless, safe, and financially viable as possible.

RTITB understands that every business’ training needs will be different, and this will continue to be the case in making the move to AFVs. Just as we have been with other technologies, we will continue to keep ahead of these changes within the industry in order that we can develop new training material/modules for its RTITB Master Driver CPC Consortium members, that have our usual high standards, and the ability to be tailored to specific business needs.

The exact content is yet to be confirmed, but is likely to include topics such as: Driving AFVs in line with the Highway Code and legislation; Driving safely and efficiently; Preparing the AFV for daily use; How the country will adopt net zero by 2050; Different solutions that will be available; What the future will look like; What’s happening in other countries that may be adopted in the UK; The introduction of autonomous vehicles, etc. Material will be created both for LGV drivers and PCV drivers.

If you need support or guidance on the driver training needed for switching to AFV please contact RTITB on 01952 520200 or reach out to our team via email: solutions@rtitb.com.

Key terms crib sheet for low emissions and AFV in road transport
AFV – Alternatively Fuelled Vehicle
ULEV – An Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle – (a vehicle that emits less than 50g/km of CO2)
BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle
ZERF – Zero Emission Road Freight
ERS – Electric Road System
Transport Decarbonisation Plan – The plan that will lay out the UK government’s approach to decarbonising every form of transport.
WLTP – Worldwide Light Vehicle Test Procedure


*(Transport and Environment Statistics 2021 Annual report – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/984685/transport-and-environment-statistics-2021.pdf)