Government announces Driver CPC reforms

Jan 16 | 2024

The UK government has recently announced reforms to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC).

This is to create greater flexibility while acknowledging the importance of continuous training to ensure professionalism and safety standards are maintained.

The government proposals include the following reforms for drivers operating in the UK to be introduced in the summer of 2024:

  1. Reducing the minimum course length from 7 hours to 3.5 hours. The total of 35 hours every five years remains.
  2. Decoupling e-learning from trainer-led courses to allow more at-home learning.
  3. In spring 2025, introducing a fast route for drivers to return to the workforce through a 7-hour course.
  4. The existing qualification will remain for drivers who operate internationally.

Declan Pang, Director of Public Affairs and Policy for the Road Haulage Association (RHA) in England, said: “We support the proposals for greater flexibility in how the 35 hours of training is delivered, greater use of e-learning and a fast route for returning drivers. We note that government will consult further on introducing a new periodic test as an alternative to 35 hours of training for drivers looking to renew their DCPC.”  

Chris Yarsley, Senior Policy Manager, Road Freight Regulation at Logistics UK, commented:  “Road safety is the bedrock on which professional drivers operate and the Driver CPC regime is at the heart of this commitment. The increased flexibility that the new legislation will permit will enable logistics businesses to keep goods moving through the supply chain, while ensuring that their drivers remain up to date on key professional driving legislation.” 

He continued: “Under the new legislation, to be laid before Parliament in the spring, lapsed drivers will be able to start their return to the workforce with a seven hour course, which will provide driving rights for one year while they complete their full CPC qualification. This is good news for businesses still finding it hard to recruit new drivers to the sector, and ease the passage back into the workforce for those returning to the industry – with time available for them to undertake their full CPC training.” 

The new Driver CPC regime will introduce two classes of qualification – a National CPC for those intending only to drive in the UK, and an International CPC, close in its parameters to the current national standard, which would permit driving in the UK and abroad. 

However, Logistics UK does have a word of caution for the government over another of the proposed reforms to Driver CPC legislation, which would replace training with a periodic test, of around 50 questions: “HGV driving is, by its nature, one of the most heavily regulated industries in the economy for a reason – the risks involved for drivers and other road users cannot be overlooked. The industry remains concerned by this proposal, which would replace training with a periodic test – in the opinion of our members, this will not provide sufficient assessment and evaluation to ensure drivers’ abilities are fully tested and should simply be discounted now. The safety of all road users is of paramount importance, and along with the rest of the industry, Logistics UK will maintain the logistics sector’s pressure on government to ensure that professional drivers can continue to move goods both in the UK and overseas safely and effectively.” 

Declan Pang from the RHA agreed.  “We believe the periodic test alone is not in line with maintaining safety standards unless it is combined with mandatory training. Therefore, if a test option was to be introduced, it can only be alongside formal training.”

The Department for Infrastructure (DFI) in Northern Ireland has confirmed it will replicate these reforms in the region.

More information on the announcement can be found here.