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DCPC: lifesaver or waste of time?

Sep 18, 2014
So, how did you get on with your Driver CPC training (DCPC)? Speaking to companies in the UK most say that they are more or less ready for the deadline this month and have made sure that all their drivers have attended 35 hours of training under the scheme. So they are legal, but they are not necessarily happy about it.

Some say that any training is good training and embrace the concept putting the cost down as an investment; others say it is a total waste of money that does nobody any good and is insulting and boring for experienced drivers.  Perhaps it’s just a question of attitude.

The aim of DCPC is to raise the standards of new drivers and to maintain and enhance the professionalism of existing drivers throughout the European Union, through a continuous update of their capabilities.  The UK is recognised generally as having pretty good standards of driving, not all European Member States are the same.  The intention was to raise standards generally throughout Europe.

But after years of hand wringing from transport managers, wondering whether they should send drivers for training, during a recession; and years of drivers rolling their eyes in a ‘grandma sucking eggs kind of way’, are we any further ahead?  Are our roads safer as a result of DCPC?

A survey commissioned a year ago by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) tries to throw some light on it.  It received 1,318 responses.  Asked whether DCPC could contribute to the objectives of the Directive, just under 70% said it ‘could’.  The question, however, didn’t ask whether they it ‘would’. There was, however, general support for the harmonisation of training “so that other Member States are at the same level as the UK,” but it required ‘buy in’ from all Member States. Some though felt that it was all too difficult to enforce.

Asked whether DCPC has improved safety on European roads, only 10% though it had made a significant difference. A similar number said that it had improved the level of professional competence of drivers. Those who were positive said that although the training is not perfect it has increased awareness with drivers. Objectors said that it was irrelevant to their work and many said that they had taken the same course five times to make attaining their DCPC easy.

General comments from the survey included: “It’s a waste of time and a tax on jobs”; “Too many drivers from other Member States are buying DCPC cards with no formal training”; and, by contrast, “I believe there should be no exemptions if we are professionally driving in the course of our work”.

To find out more, David Jordan from The Mover sat in on a DCPC training course to form his own opinion.  Although David has never driven a lorry he did run a motorcycle training school for many years so has some knowledge on the subject.  On his return he said that the trainer was very good and the students seemed interested and co-operative.  The subject for the day was road signs.  David took part in a ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ style quiz and was surprised to find that he, who is not a professional driver, fared better than most of the others, who were.  “Some people thought that a sign warning of pedestrians ahead meant ‘no pedestrians’!  It’s a pretty fundamental error.”  If that really does reflect the level of understanding in the UK, that is supposed to be pretty good anyway, perhaps the need for regular training is more acute than some think.

Like it or not, DCPC is here to stay, at least until our friends in Brussels and Strasbourg dream up something else.  As the training has to be done, there seems to be little point in just going through the motions.  Sitting at the back reading The Sun and waiting for the end is just stupid.  If it’s got to be done, it should be done with some enthusiasm and humility. Nobody is too old to learn.

Note: It is a requirement that all drivers of lorries have DCPC from this month.  If you don’t have one, you must not drive.  

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