Driver apprentice Steven Cartwright has set a record at Moody Logistics and Storage having gained his Class 1 HGV licence in just three months.

Under new government rules designed to free up more HGV test slots, drivers no longer have to pass a Class 2 test, covering rigid trucks, before taking a Class 1 test allowing them to drive articulated lorries.

The 28-year-old joined the Cramlington firm’s in-house driver apprenticeship programme in August and made such rapid progress that he passed his Class 1 at the first attempt.

However, Steven from Gateshead, did have some experience of being behind the wheel of larger vehicles, having previously been a service bus driver for Go North East for seven years.

The DVSA introduced the changes last year with the aim of tackling a national shortage of qualified lorry drivers, while the government is also funding an HGV training skills programme that prepares candidates for their Class 1 test.

Several other Class 2 drivers at the family-run firm have signed up to the scheme to gain their Class 1 licences which will offer greater flexibility for Moody Logistics.

Steven is the first of Moody’s driver apprentices to go straight to his Class 1 test, the others all taking between four and six months to gain their Class 2 licences, depending on previous driving experience.

Given that handling an articulated lorry is much more complicated than smaller rigid trucks, Moody’s has put additional guidance and support in place for all newly qualified Class 1 drivers.

Each will be monitored and assessed by lead driver Ian Brown to ensure they are safe and competent as part of its commitment to upholding high standards on the road.

Caroline Moody, managing director of Moody Logistics and Storage, said: “Under the new rules someone can go straight from a car licence to taking a test to drive an articulated lorry, which is why we have introduced an extended period of assessment, training and support.

“Several of our Class 2 drivers are now preparing for their Class 1 tests and once qualified, it will give the company much greater flexibility.”

Steven Cartwright said: “It’s great to set a record at Moody’s for passing my Class 1 in such a short time, but I did have a bit of a head start given the licencing rule changes and my previous experience driving buses!

“I’m looking forward to my new life as a trucker. Moody’s driver apprenticeship scheme has allowed me to progress my career while continuing my love of driving.”