Driver training company MDR Training UK predicts a last minute rush for Driver CPC as the 2014 deadline approaches.
MDR Training UK has offices in Leicester and Bristol and specialises in Driver CPC training for professional drivers. The firm was established in 2009 as a sister company to MDR Recruitment, a driver agency with around 120, mainly HGV drivers on its books. MDR started the training side of the business to train its own drivers when Driver CPC was introduced and last year trained over 1,000 professional drivers. This year it aims to double that figure.
MDR runs training courses at venues around the country as well as at its own premises so travelling can be kept to a minimum – courses are also run at weekends. From September 2014 all professional drivers of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes will have to complete 35 hours of training every five years to gain a Driver Qualification Card (DQC). Any driver without a card will no longer be entitled to drive professionally and will face a fine of £1,000 if caught. Anyone aiding and abetting – the driver’s employer for example – will also be fined £1,000. However, the consequences of not having a DQC may be far more serious than just being fined. As the driver will effectively be driving without a licence, he will also be driving without insurance and could face further prosecution and be personally liable for third-party damages in the event of an accident.
Despite the onerous consequences MDR’s Training Manager Richard Dunvaband is not convinced that every driver will have completed Driver CPC by the 2014 deadline. The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) estimates that only around 35% of drivers have qualified so far.
“I don’t think there has been enough publicity about Driver CPC and there are still a lot of transport managers out there who are not fully up to speed with the situation,” said Richard. The trouble is if too many people leave it to the last minute there won’t be enough capacity in the industry to get everybody through in time, and that would be a disaster.”
Driver CPC syllabus broadly covers:
- Safe and fuel efficient driving;
- Legal requirements;
- Health and safety;
- Service and logistics.
All training is classroom based and there is no pass or fail just a quiz – trainers are encouraged not to call it a test – at the end of each seven hour session. The quiz result does not have any bearing on the trainee’s qualification and all participants are issued with a certificate of attendance at the end of the course. However, where there is an obvious need for improvement MDR will informally suggest to a driver’s employer that attention needs to be given to the subject involved.
“There is a certain amount of flexibility within the CPC syllabus and we try hard to make sure the content of the course is relevant to the type of driving the trainee is involved in,” said Richard. “For example, someone regularly driving a 40 tonne artic would need to carry out different safety checks from say a driver operating a removals van; it’s not a matter of one size fits all.”
The overall aim of Driver CPC is to improve the skills and knowledge of professional drivers and make sure they keep up to date with changes in legislation and modern working practices.
“Often experienced drivers are reluctant to come on a CPC course, after all if you’ve been driving a truck for 20 years what is there to learn?” said Richard. “But Driver CPC is not about the ‘nuts n’ bolts’ of driving it’s about improving the professionalism of commercial drivers in all aspects of the job from safety to customer service. I don’t think we’ve ever had a driver who didn’t benefit from coming on a course.”
A DSA spokesperson said: “Whilst we’re encouraged by the number of drivers already committed to undertaking Driver CPC training - there’s no room for complacency. It’s really important that training is planned and completed sooner rather than later to avoid any last minute rush before the end of the five year cycle. If you leave it too late you run the risk of not being able to continue driving professionally.”
Some people are hoping the deadline will be extended
“I think there are quite a few people out there hoping the deadline for Driver CPC will be extended or even that the whole thing will be quashed,” said Phillip Kidd from training provider Kidds Services in East Yorkshire. “That just isn’t going to happen and as the DSA said during their seminar at The Movers and Storers Show the rules will be rigorously enforced and any vehicle being driven by someone without a Driver Qualification Card after 2014 won’t be going anywhere.”
Teaming up with another removals company kept costs down for G&R Removals
Lance Green, Managing Director of piano moving specialist G&R Removals of Chiswick is very pro training, although he admits to being slightly put out that Driver CPC is compulsory. “We have 10 drivers and all of them are at least part way through their CPC training, we use BAR Training Services and I’m very happy with them,” said Lance. “I think the guys enjoy it, it’s a day out and all of them have said they’ve learned something as a result. We teamed up with another removals company and between us we had 15 drivers trained at one session for a fixed price, that way the cost per driver is quite reasonable.”
Novadata Tab boss remembers 1981 tachograph panic
Derek Broomfield, Managing Director of transport training company Novadata Tab Ltd in Essex is also expecting a last minute rush in the run up to the 2014 deadline and possibly beyond. “I think we’ll see another situation like we did in 1981 when tachographs were introduced,” said Derek. “I set up a tachograph calibration company to install tachos in 1976 when the government announced they would be compulsory for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes after January 1981. People had five years warning to get them fitted, but guess when we got really busy? January 1981, after the deadline had passed!”
Advice from the Driving Standards Agency
Professional lorry, bus and coach drivers are now legally required to hold the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) in order to drive for a living.
New drivers entering the profession must now pass the Driver CPC initial qualification. Once qualified they must complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years throughout their driving career to maintain their Driver CPC and continue to drive professionally.
Drivers who already hold a vocational licence (C, C1, C+E and C1+E) and have been driving since before 10 September, 2009 have ‘acquired rights’ meaning that they don’t have to complete the initial qualification. However, drivers with acquired rights are also required to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years. For those with acquired rights the deadline for them to have completed their first block of 35 hours training is September 2014.
There’s no test to pass and courses can be practical or classroom based.
You can also now view how many hours of periodic training you’ve completed online at www.direct.gov.uk/checkdrivercpc
White & Company on course to meet 2014 deadline
White & Company has a fleet of over 200 vehicles and 18 branches throughout the UK, Germany and Majorca. Chief Executive Ian Palmer says his company is on course to have all drivers CPC qualified by 2014 with around 60% having already completed two of the five days training required. “We’re very much aware that the clock is ticking and with so many drivers to get through in all parts of the country we decided to put a programme in place to make sure we are ready by 2014,” said Ian.
“The drivers have been very positive and the training has helped them all in one way or another. It’s not all about braking distances and tachographs, some of the courses have covered things like first aid and even basic fire fighting, it all depends on what’s relevant to the drivers involved.”