Peak Planning: The Go-to Guide for Seasonal Driver Cover in the South and South West

This is a comprehensive go-to guide for planning seasonal driver cover in the South and South West of England.
If you are looking for information on:

  • Peak delivery seasons in the South & South West
  • Rules regarding HGV driver hours
  • Mitigating against driver shortages
  • Common Peak Planning mistakes (and how to avoid them!)
  • How to spot a good HGV driver support agency
  • Using Outbase services to tackle seasonal delivery issues

Then this guide is here to help!
Let’s get started.

Peak Delivery Seasons in the South & South West

When planning seasonal driver cover you should note that peak delivery seasons vary across the South. While the South East of England enjoys a much steadier delivery season throughout the year, the South West carries a unique set of challenges that all National Planning Managers should be aware of.
In the South West, peak starts at Easter and from then on until September the road network is incredibly busy.
This is followed by a short spike at Christmas before things quieten down again for the harsh winter months.
Why the difference?
Whilst the South East can rely on one of the best road networks in Europe to keep transport moving, the South West must contend with an influx of tourists clogging up the regions much smaller roads and making reliable deliveries much harder.
Key Takeaway: The South West is unique to England, smaller roads, busy tourist seasons, farming and agricultural peaks (and the occasional Atlantic storm!) make local knowledge vital!

Rules Regarding HGV Driver Hours

The laws regarding HGV driving hours are UK wide and based on European Union regulations.
Under these laws, HGV drivers face:

  • 9 hour daily limit on driving
  • 56 hour maximum weekly limit
  • 90 hour fortnightly limit
  • Take 45 min break every 4.5 hours

If these rules are not followed the driver and fleet manager could face a criminal conviction.

Driving time or working time?

It’s important to distinguish between these two.
Driving time is classed as time spent behind the wheel. Working time is classified as anything you do in connection with transport operation.
This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Loading and unloading
  • The monitoring of any loading/unloading activities
  • Driver CPC training or industry-specific job training
  • Cleaning and maintaining vehicle
  • Daily vehicle defect check and report
  • Administrative work


How to Mitigate Against Driver Shortages

The shortage of experienced HGV drivers is the biggest challenge facing the UK logistics industry today, especially when it comes to planning seasonal driver cover.
The combination of Brexit and Coronavirus has made an already difficult situation much worse.
Many older HGV drivers chose to stay away from the industry during lockdown. A lot of them have also chosen to retire early or embark on other careers as a result.
Meanwhile, fewer people coming to the UK means less drivers to choose from.
Furthermore, it takes time to recruit and train new HGV drivers. Especially as many young people are put off by the anti-social hours and extensive investment in HGV training and CPC required.
Kelly Hughes is the General Manger of our Exeter Outbase operation and he offers the following advice:

“With even the UK’s biggest supermarkets struggling to recruit and retain quality HGV drivers, we can genuinely see a future where shops and businesses are forced to close due to an unreliable supply chain.

Our Outbase operation is designed to help businesses across the UK looking to deliver into the South West.

We enable drivers to drop off their loads here for us to distribute across the South West using our own teams of specialist local HGV drivers.

Not only does this cut down delays to the supply chain, it halves the amount of time your delivery drivers need to be on the road if coming from a place like – say – Coventry. This means more capacity for your Planners and a more streamlined and reliable service for you.”


Common Peak Planning mistakes (and how to avoid them!)

Planning is notoriously hard, so preparation is crucial.
The biggest challenge during peak season (Easter to September) is the combination of busy tourists driving on a tiny road network.
Remember that there are really only two roads in and out of the South West – The M4 and M5. Pretty much the rest of the region is served by A roads.
From June onwards you must make sure that you have enough resource to cover the extra demand and slower road networks.
Our team works with Planners, Loaders and National Transport Managers from relatively small operations to major UK Retailers.
Everyone faces the same challenges, but it is the ones who start planning their extra driver resource early who ensure that their deliveries arrive on time.
We’ll keep saying it over and over – get started as early as possible!

How to spot a good HGV driver support agency

If you are looking for a good local agency, we recommend that you take time to investigate the quality and experience of the agency staff and drivers.
You can often spot this by investigating the benefits that agencies offer their drivers. For example, do they offer industry leading rates of pay? Can their drivers access high quality training and career development opportunities?
Having a network of local HGV driving agencies across the region is another sign that they have the depth of local knowledge and contacts required to supply a steady pool of extra resource as and when required.
A good agency will make sure that you have the right ‘bum on seat’, with the skills and experience to get the job done.

Using Outbase services to tackle seasonal delivery issues

Outbasing is the process of locating vehicles at a strategic distribution centre. Chosen to provide an optimal distance from each delivery point they improve efficiency, trailer fill and driver utilisation.
They can dramatically reduce the number of vehicles you require for your regional deliveries.
As we’ve seen, the South West is a particularly cruel region to the inexperienced planner – which is why we created Exeter Outbase.
One mile from J30 on the M5 this is the optimum delivery point into Devon and Cornwall.
It means that drivers who are unfamiliar with the unique nature of our roads and transport networks need only get as far as
Exeter before handing over to our team of local delivery experts.
Some of the features of Exeter Outbase are:
Unlimited Driver Resource
With over 100 experienced assessed HGV Drivers at our facility, your product is always delivered on time.
Drops per Vehicle
Locating closer to Devon & Cornwall ensures you get the maximum trailer fill and enables you to plan more drops per route.
Vehicle Utilisation
Simply reduce the amount of vehicles you require for your Devon & Cornwall deliveries. Vehicles running 22 hours mean no nights away required!
If you would like to find out more about Outbasing and seasonal driver cover, simply Get in Touch and a member of the team will contact you within 24 hours (exc. Weekends & Bank Holidays).