What the increase in road usage means for the logistics industry.


The scale of the logistics sector is vast, accounting for the largest employment field in the UK with positions ranging from HGV drivers and those in staffing warehouses, to technicians, engineers and those in fleet managerial positions – how does an increase in road usage impact this sector?

According to Prologis UK, the logistics sector is a vital contributor to the UK economy, employing over 2 million people and accounting for roughly 7% of the national workforce. An independent study by Frontier Economics also reveals that the UK logistics industry has expanded by 190,000 employees since 2019 and driven the creation of a further 125,000 jobs in local communities, with the employment in logistics doubling since 2012 to now be on track to overtake the size of NHS England, the UK’s largest employer, in 2023.

But what exactly does an increase in road usage look like for the industry, what’s causing it, what are the implications and how can fleets prepare for the increase in road usage?

Impact on home deliveries and consumer behaviour

Without a doubt, one of the big impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that people who drive for a professional living, are transporting a lot more food and parcels to private addresses than ever.

This is because when the first lockdown happened, the number of trips brooked through Uber and other platforms obviously shrank very quickly, which meant that drivers then moved to working for commercial businesses such as Deliveroo and Amazon.

A whole new market then opened up, as people who pre-pandemic, use to go to the supermarket for their weekly food shop found that online delivery was much more convenient. That helped push up the number of delivery drivers in the UK, with more and more people relying on deliveries.

But working from home has also changed consumer buying habits too, and people no longer see the need for going out to lunch with their team or attending office events any more. Instead, workers are opting to have their food delivered a few times a week, right to their home desk.

The same goes for deliveries, as before, consumers would get their Amazon parcels at the weekend. Now they’re at home and at a clock of a button, their parcel can be delivered within 24 hours.

As a result, all of this has contributed to a huge increase in the need for more delivery drivers and therefore, more vehicles on the road.

The number of fleet vehicle miles

Latest figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) Road Traffic Estimates Report show that light commercial vehicles (LCVs) have become more important over the last decades, accounting for 18% of all motor vehicle traffic in 2022.

Looking at the total number of miles driven, light commercial vans accounted for an increases in vehicle miles between 2021 and 2022 of 7.6%, and also saw LCV traffic levels increase to reach a new peak level in 2022 of 57.5 billion vehicle miles.

Increase of logistics vans on the road

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the total LCV market has significantly grown over the course of 2023, with 321,000 vans expected to have been registered before the end of December, amounting to an increase of 13.9% and a market value of more than £13 billion.

This is a £1.5bn increase compared 2022 where 282,139 new LCVs were registered in the UK in 2022, and just looking at January figures alone shows a year-on-year increase of 25.8%, representing the first rise in new LCV registrations since the September plate change in 2021.

Though registrations also increased across all weight classes. Small vans weighing up to 2 tonnes for use of last-mile deliveries and logistics were the most popular vans, whilst those weighing greater than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes increased in registrations by 34.1%, with latest government statistics now showing that the number of vans on British roads has hit a record high following a 37% rise in the last decade.

Need for more technicians

Effects of ‘the Great Resignation’ have been felt across many industries in the UK, and the automotive sector is no different. Currently, a shortage of vehicle technicians is costing motor dealers millions of pounds, but with more and more logistics vehicles out on the road, the demand is still very much there for experienced technicians who are able to repair them.

But it’s also important because as new vehicle technologies continue to emerge such as electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids, or even the soon to be self-driving vehicles, that the appropriately trained technicians are out there ready to help when they’re needed most.

As a result, the Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) reported that a significant government investment of £15 million has been requested for fleets to support their own investment in technician skills training, to ensure their workforce is ready to facilitate correct, safe repairs and to help drive recruitment up across the entire country.

Agency driver hires

In times of increased demand, the logistics sector has historically called upon international workers to fill roles such as driver and warehouse operatives. This has resulted in a diverse workforce which embraces people from all different nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures, and  according to research by Prologis UK, 12% of the logistics, warehousing, and supply chain workers in the UK as of mid-2023 were non-native English speakers.

What’s more, recent analysis by YouGov reveals that 20% of people in logistics were unemployed before beginning their roles within the logistics field, with 25% of those previously being long-term unemployed.

With this, there’s strong evidence to show that the logistics industry provides a means of re-entering the workforce for those who were previously unable to, and at a time of year when many people are looking to generate enough income to cover the Christmas period, taking on a role which gives them this much needed opportunity to work is highly sought after.

And of course, for fleet operators, this is a positive trend as it means that an increased workforce means a wider opportunity to source more commercial vehicles into their fleets, act on more deliveries, hire more drivers and technicians and ultimately…

Meet festive demand

In the run up to the festive season where demand skyrockets for Black Friday and Christmas deliveries, the sheer scale of the logistics workforce is very much welcomed, as whilst consumers are clicking away at placing orders, those fleet operators are busy planning to drop off the goods.

This Christmas, experts predict that Black Friday will be the busiest shopping day of the year, with 80,000 extra logistics vehicles needed on the roads couriering Christmas gifts and parcels.

This means that in order for the UK’s logistics industry to meet this increase, they must consider options to hire additional temporary fleet vehicles to expand their offerings. But of course, with any new vehicle addition, it’s always important to ensure the resource is there too just in case anything goes wrong, and those vehicles need attention.

Knowing who to call

Whether your drivers have just set out on their next long festive delivery journey, or they’re on the return stretch, Egertons will be right there when you need us most.

Don’t let an increase in road usage impact your logistics business. With vehicle rescue and recovery services stretching from breakdown to specialist assistance, we’re committed to supporting your drivers no matter what, where, when or how.

Just give us a call, and we’ll do the rest.

Reach out today to find out more.