The European Commission has released proposed revisions to the Driver CPC Directive. An evaluation of Driver CPC delivery and benefits was completed in 2014, which was broadly very positive about the impact on safety and labour mobility. Shortcomings were identified, however, and the proposed revisions allege to rectify those shortcomings.
The Freight Transport Association has expressed concern that some proposed revisions could limit operators’ ability to provide relevant training for their drivers. The planned changes seek to prevent repeat courses in the same subject during a five-year period.
The shortcoming that this proposal is intended to rectify is that there is currently no restriction on repeating the same course for all 35 hours’ mandatory training. This means that employers have not been prevented from block booking their drivers onto a week’s training that repeats the same course every day. Since the purpose of Driver CPC was to improve road safety and help to maintain high standards of driving, promoting driving as a professional career, this abuse of the loophole does not satisfy that aim.
Jeff Cairns, DCPC Instructor extraordinaire for System Group, is frustrated by this abuse. “It is my view that that kind of practice should be stopped and the argument is valid for varying the subjects.” However, he insists that this broad-brush approach is not practicable and agrees with the FTA that it could hamper keeping drivers up-to-date with changes in legislation. “The training should be allowed to update candidates with changes. I don’t like the lazy and disrespectful practice of getting Driver CPC out of the way by booking onto a week’s course without caring what the subject is, if it’s relevant to the driver, or if it repeats and duplicates during the week. That isn’t training. But to deny the possibility of claiming annually for refresher training fails to take the industry’s needs into account. I do think that there needs to be a provision to update knowledge.”
In order to fulfil the purpose of Driver CPC of continuing to improve safety maintain high standards, it is clear that reminders, refreshers and updates are vital.
“Just because a driver attends a course at some point in a 5 year period does not confirm that he will retain all his new knowledge/skills,” adds Dave Crawford, System Group’s Commercial Director. “If this were the case, driver infringements would be a thing of the past. Employers and individuals should have the opportunity to access refresher training. We acknowledge that attending the same course each year may not be ideal, however, if that course is of the most relevance to the driver, it would be counterproductive to deny that possibility.”
Chris Yarsley, FTA’s EU Affairs Manager, concurs: “An unintended consequence [of the revisions] could be that a driver would undertake training that was less relevant to his or her role just to fulfil the statutory requirement. This would particularly apply to operators who carry dangerous goods or are involved in security work, where very specific training is required on a regular basis.”
Jeff Cairns agrees. “It is unclear at the moment whether this prohibition would definitely affect those who claim their DCPC hours while attending their ADR training, though it certainly looks as though it would. It is inevitable that those who transport dangerous goods would attend refresher training within a five year period for which they should be able to claim DCPC hours.”
Can we conclude then that the broad-brush approach that the prohibition is currently taking to the problem is not practicable and needs appropriate review?
Driver CPC is valued by FTA members and the wider road freight industry as a means of recognising driving as a profession and demonstrating and benchmarking the skills required. At last year’s FTA Transport Manager conference series, delegates voted Driver CPC as one of the European laws they would amend rather than scrap post Brexit.
The proposed changes could be agreed by the European Commission before Brexit, so would continue to apply following the Great Repeal Bill, until otherwise decided, so ensuring that the industry has opportunity to safeguard the value that Driver CPC adds to the industry and to the driving profession is vital.