Construction firms face an increasingly exhausting struggle to get their materials moved to building sites, according to research carried out by the Road Haulage and Freight Transport associations.
The figures show that the construction sector has a current shortfall of 7500 truckers. This will rise to 16,000 by 2005, when the European Working Time Directive comes into force. The directive will reduce lorry drivers' working week in transit from 68 to 48 hours.

Geoff Lampard, distribution director at Marley Building Materials, said the shortage has been affecting the sector since March.

Lampard said: "You have a product and a customer but you can only offer a delivery time of five days. We're all waking up to this late."

The Quarry Products Association has released figures that show that the working time directive will cost its members an extra £355.8m. The QPA's economist Jerry McLaughlin said: "This is an issue regardless of the directive – that only adds to a problem that exists anyway."