Alec Horner describes the most recent developments in driver CPC periodic training and the progress towards the deadlines of 10 September 2013 for PCV and 10 September 2014 for LGV drivers with “acquired rights”.

Fitters need a DQC to work “commercially” on the roadside

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has revised its requirements in relation to fitters having to hold the driver certificate of professional competence (CPC) qualification (the Driver Qualification Card (DQC)).

Previously, the DSA had indicated it was only necessary for fitters to hold the qualification when taking a vehicle to an MOT test (only because it was not listed in the exemptions). The DSA now says that if a fitter goes on the road to attend to a mechanical problem and drives another commercial bus or truck, then he or she does need a DQC. This will particularly affect many bus and coach fitters carrying out change-overs on the road. Road testing, however, is not a commercial activity and is therefore still exempt. The revised guidance is available at www.gov.uk.

Ultimately, the interpretation of this and the other exemptions will be a matter for the courts to determine.

Driver CPC periodic training in laden vehicles

In response to industry feedback on the recently released requirements about using laden vehicles on driving tests, the DSA has issued further clarification about what the legislation means.

The legislation on real total mass “laden testing” will not require vehicles used for driver CPC periodic training to be laden. The rules for delivering initial training using a laden vehicle from 1 July 2013 are that:

  • if trainers do not have an operator's licence, they must use a vehicle that is loaded according to the specific load requirements (available at www.gov.uk)

  • if trainers do have an operator's licence, they do not need to use a vehicle that is loaded according to the specific load requirements and they can use a vehicle carrying its normal load.

VOSA driver CPC enforcement action

As part of its roadside checks, VOSA has already started enforcement action on the driver CPC and, in the 12 months to 31 March 2013, 45 graduated fixed penalties have been issued by VOSA on driver CPC-related offences, each attracting a penalty of £30. These were all for “driver CPC — no evidence of training or exemption”. The breakdown of these penalties was as follows.

LGV

41

GB drivers*

38

PCV

4

Non-UK drivers

7

*These would all have been new drivers having failed to take their initial driver CPC.

Four defendants were successfully prosecuted during the same period, although they actually represent three cases, one of which saw both the operator and driver prosecuted.

  1. Bristol area: driver £173 costs, no separate penalty; operator £189 costs and £800 fine.

  2. Wales: £221 costs and £135 fine.

  3. London: £116 costs and £400 fine.

OCRS and driver CPC

As an indication of the severity of driver CPC non-compliance and the effects on the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS), VOSA has stated that receiving a graduated fixed penalty (currently £30) at the roadside would result in 25 points on the operator’s OCRS. If the driver was prosecuted for a driver CPC offence, the operator would receive 50 points. In the case of an operator being prosecuted, it would receive 100 points plus an additional 500 points. Any prosecution against an operator would cause its OCRS rating to go to “red”.

Audit of driver CPC training

In the 12-month period March 2012 to March 2013, 317 centre audits and 865 course audits had been conducted. Around 100 centres had been referred to the DSA by the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training for further investigation. The most common issues identified on audit were:

  • licence/identity checking

  • attendance record

  • centre records

  • fair processing notice

  • variation from course layout

  • short delivery (30% of audits)

  • fraud/unapproved course material.

Nine cases were under investigation by the DSA fraud and integrity team, a further centre had been suspended, 40 drivers had had periodic training records revoked, and 83 drivers had been blocked from upload.

The audit programme had generally acted as a deterrent to non-compliance.

Driver online enquiry system

Introduced in early 2012, the online driver enquiry system for vocational drivers to check their completed driver CPC periodic training hours record initially had a slow take-up. However, several “fixes” to the system have now been completed and 55,000 drivers have registered and there have been almost 100,000 log-ins.

Use of foreign languages in UK-based training courses

An issue has been raised with the DSA as to whether driver CPC training could be provided in another language, where a class was made up entirely of people with a common first language. Delivering training in their native language would aid understanding and make it more attractive to those drivers.

However, the current assessment system would not allow auditors to check course content if it were not delivered in English. It has been suggested that the auditor could look at English transcripts of the course material, but would also be able to witness the training session to gain a feel as to whether it was effective. Translations are available for other government services, eg schools are able to teach in a range of languages, where their intake predominantly comprises non-English speakers.

Foreign drivers on the UK’s roads continue to be an issue since their understanding of the Highway Code is generally seen to be poor and they are unable to explain their routes and destinations to VOSA officials, etc. Training would be more effective if it was delivered in a language in which the driver was competent, but the current Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on the use of foreign languages in driving tests, which has just closed, seemed to be moving in the other direction.

Progress towards completing “acquired rights” periodic training

More than five million hours of periodic training have been uploaded in the last 12 months up to March 2013 — 13.5 million in total since inception. There are probably around 26.5 million hours required, so the industry is over half way to achieving that total.

There are 1360 approved driver CPC periodic training centres. Consortia form less than 1% of the centres registered (just 16 in total), but they are providing more than 50% of the training capacity. In terms of sector breakdown of centres, PCV only is 13%, LGV only 55%, and both sectors 32%.

In the year to March 2013, 106,886 DQCs were issued, of which 16,511 were on the initial qualification. In total to date, from 2008/09, more than 200,000 DQCs have been issued, more than 50,000 of them from initial qualification. It is impossible to know how many drivers fall into the LGV or PCV sectors as many have both entitlements. It is estimated that around 750,000 licences are active, but again there are no accurate figures for “dormant” licences or part-time drivers.

Achieving the deadline

A total of 613,496 drivers are engaged with driver CPC and there are now more drivers who have completed 28 hours of periodic training than those who had only completed seven hours. Therefore, the industry (both freight and passenger) appears to be on target for completing the “acquired rights” deadline of 10 September 2013/14.

Key data on driver CPC continues to be published on the gov.uk website.

Last reviewed 29 May 2013