The UK economy is heading towards “a crippling logistical crisis”, after new research reveals that the already chronic driver shortage is being underplayed, and is set to get even worse.

The stark warning comes from Gary Benardout of HGVtraining.co.uk, the UK’s largest provider of HGV training, which is leading the push to bring young drivers to the sector – the only way it says a crisis can be averted.

Mr Bernadout said: “The UK is utterly reliant on road haulage, and commerce will take a huge hit if this issue isn’t addressed immediately.

“It won’t just be the logistics industry that suffers, but all businesses who in any way rely on road freight, which is to say, pretty much all of them. That means delayed deliveries, frustrated customers, higher costs and lost revenue.”

Already facing a predicted shortfall of 50,000 drivers by 2020, and with the average age of UK lorry drivers being 57, HGVtraining said it is critical that fresh blood is brought in to keep trucks on the road, and meet the ever booming demand for online deliveries.

HGVtraining's survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK found that those aged 18-24 are among the least likely to consider a career as a lorry driver, with just one in five (21%) willing to consider it. Amongst the reasons cited for not wanting to go into trucking were a perceived lack of career progression, boredom and – tellingly – the cost of training to become a driver (around £3,000 for the CPC professional driver qualification).

Mr Bernadout said: "We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and hope the driver shortage is suddenly going to disappear. We already have a shortage – and these figures reveal it’s only get to get worse.

“Unless we can get more young people into the profession it’s obvious there just aren’t going to be enough drivers – and that’s going to have a huge impact for retailers, consumers and any of the myriad of businesses that rely on sending goods by road.

“We need to be pro-active: government, our sector and our schools system to make sure we can fill the jobs that are crying out to be filled. We need to be smart and act now.”