Saturday, 4 July 2015

Driver CPC ‘grandfather rights’ changes clarified . . .


Driver CPC ‘grandfather rights’ changes clarified

Following our report in April’s Transport Operator, the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed details of the new alternative route to periodic training for initial Driver CPC qualification for all drivers who held a Category C or D licence prior to its inception, and explained the reasoning behind the change.

Such drivers can now opt to take Modules 2 and 4 of the licence acquisition test for the relevant category instead of undertaking 35 hours of approved training.

At first sight, taking the two test modules may seem like an attractive option when compared to paying for and undertaking 35 hours of training to obtain the qualification, particularly as the cost of Module 2 is £24 and Module 4 £55: relatively low compared with the cost of approved Driver CPC training, which would typically be at least five times as much for the 35 hours.

However, there are waiting lists of some weeks for candidates to be able to complete both test modules, and the candidate must also provide a suitable vehicle for Module 4: the ‘show and tell’ test.

In contrast, many Driver CPC training providers can provide five consecutive days of training sessions with a guaranteed qualification at the end at short notice.

While any experienced and competent driver with a reasonable standard of English could expect to walk in and pass the Module 2 (case studies) test, without further training, Module 4 is more difficult, and currently has a failure rate of around 22 per cent, even with the majority of candidates having undertaken formal training and preparation prior to the test.

There is no failing the 35 hours of approved training: all the candidate has to do is turn up with a current Category C or D licence and stay until the end of each session.

Passing both test modules will entitle the candidate to a Driver CPC card. However, it will not exempt him from starting the Driver CPC training cycle, and he will have to complete 35 hours of approved training within the next five years as normal.

Explaining the change, a spokesperson for DVSA told Transport Operator: “We are offering more flexibility for bus and lorry drivers who are returning to the industry, by giving them the option of sitting the Driver CPC initial qualification tests in order to get their first Driver CPC qualification.

“In 2013, we had discussions with the bus and coach industry about giving more flexibility to drivers with a restricted (‘not for hire or reward’) bus licence who wanted to start driving professionally.

“After consultation with stakeholders, we agreed to give these drivers the option of taking the Driver CPC initial qualification tests to get their first Driver Qualification Card (DQC), as an alternative to completing 35 hours of training.

“These drivers will still need to complete 35 hours of periodic training within five years to continue driving professionally.

“We have now extended this flexibility to people who already have a full bus or lorry licence and who want to return to driving professionally.”

The DVSA spokesperson said there was no requirement for candidates choosing the test route to qualification to demonstrate either that they had any previous experience of commercial driving, or that they had not been driving commercially since the Driver CPC training deadlines.

In any case it appears that very few active commercial drivers are without the Driver CPC. Since its introduction in the LGV sector last September, 40,777 truck and 1842 bus and coach drivers have been checked by DVSA.

Of these, under 500 were found to be untrained or unqualified regarding Driver CPC, indicating a compliance rate in the order of 98 per cent.

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