The Editor ponders on the final countdown to the biggest professional shake up in the world of HGV drivers – the CPC card.
The average driver (or his employer) will spend around £1000 in modern money gaining a licence to drive either a PCV (bus) or a LGV (truck), its not cheap and the test is worryingly difficult to pass – I should know as I hold both. Drivers who come through the process now already hold a CPC card as part of the training package, but for those who passed a good while back, its been a case of going back to school. The driver CPC to the less informed is a Certificate of Professional Competence on a small plastic card that entitles you to drive and confirms you have undertaken 35 hours training in the last 5 years. The law came into effect at the beginning of this September for those in the public transport sector, those who did not have the qualification by that time would loose their licence entitlement for PCV if used for hire or reward.
LGV drivers have been given a one year extension of this deadline, and their cut-off point has been set for September 2014. A great deal of fuss has been made over this E.U wide ruling with cries of ‘its money making for the Government’ and ‘its an insult to my experience’ yet I think there is a wider picture to look at here and not only that – the system for gaining the qualification is fundamentally flawed beyond belief in my honest personal opinion – for reasons I shall explain thus.
1 – Irrespective of your occupation be it bus or truck driver, the load carried differs amazingly. Should you drive in a spirited manner 10 pallets of shrink-wrapped hot dogs wont complain, whereby 49 passengers will be screaming like kids on a roller-coaster. The real life scenario between the two roles could not be more different, if were are to undergo continual training why is there not assessment of practical ability? – You should be on courses tailor made for your present or chosen occupation, separate courses for PCV or LGV drivers.
2 – The training comes in five seven hour classroom based environments covering any one of five modules from varying subjects like driving hours or vehicle safety checks. As things stand at the present, there is nothing stopping you sitting in on the same seven hour course in say ‘PCV Driver Essentials’ five times to make your 35 hour training quota and gain your CPC card – even if you are a HGV driver.
3 – Presently, there is no exam or test situation. You turn up at the event and just sit there and watch a few videos or listen to the trainer talk – that’s it. There is the risk of the trainer asking you to leave should he / she think you are not interested or causing a disturbance, but as for any official end of session test? – nothing. You leave with a folder entailing subjects covered and another seven hours are ticked off.
4 – Unless an official DSA (driving standards agency) CPC adjudicator watching over events is present in the room at the time of training, there is nothing at all to stop you gaining your training quota providing the trainer has your licence details by not even being present – its all so very half baked and not thought through.
On a personal level, I am all for extra training in the workplace especially if it make your job easier / safer or more efficient. Some drivers I know for example have been twirling a wheel for over 50 years. Some I wouldn’t trust with a wheelbarrow and nowhere within this CPC ruling does it separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’ as far as driver ability matters. Someone somewhere in the E.U has thought this idea up and created another Government departmental office where more taxpayers money will be made – not just in this country but right across Europe. If extra training is the future then it simply must involve tailor making it to the right occupation, be a legally binding situation with both practical and theory testing and ensure that each module taken differs each time.
My very reliable sources within VOSA and Police traffic units tell me that at extra vigilance will be taken towards catching out drivers who have failed to undertake the required training and who are knowingly driving unqualified. So beware… the financial implications to you as a driver and your operator / employer who flout the law on driver CPC will be very painful indeed. Those unqualified or fail to carry their CPC card at all times when driving will be fined up to £1000.
But to summarise – the way things are at present makes a mockery of safety in the workplace and more importantly… on the road!