UPDATE: The advice discussed in the story below has since been removed from the gov.uk website pending a review, following “queries” by trade associations. Information in this article therefore may no longer be accurate.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA), the government body responsible for overseeing the rollout of the Driver CPC, has released detailed guidance on specific situations where it considers drivers would be exempt from the requirement to hold the qualification – and where it believes exemptions do not apply.
In the introduction to its briefing, the DSA warned that: “These exemptions only apply in particular circumstances. A driver who is exempt from the requirement to hold a CPC as a result of the work he undertakes in the morning may find that he still needs a CPC for the different type of work he does in the afternoon.”
But the agency was also careful to point out that its guidance merely reflects its views of the relevant regulations and carries “no legal weight” as to whether or not the DCPC is required in each circumstance – adding that the interpretation of exemptions is ultimately for the courts to decide.
The move follows considerable confusion in the industry over, for example, the apparent requirement for mechanics to hold a Driver CPC solely for the purpose of taking a vehicle to a testing station for its annual test, as Transport Operator reported earlier this year. While the Road Haulage Association has pledged to challenge this position, the DSA has now reinforced its stance by offering the scenario as one of the examples in its guidance.
“Driver C is employed as a mechanic by a road haulage operator or by a repair centre. As part of his responsibilities, he takes vehicles that he has prepared, which included a road test, to the local testing station. When driving the vehicles to the test station he is not road testing them, so he needs to hold a CPC,” the agency said.
Further examples of possible pitfalls for operators include the exemption for the need to hold the DCPC where the vehicle is not allowed to exceed 45km/h on any road.
“Driver A works for a city bus company that has fitted its vehicles with speed limiters that prevent the vehicles from exceeding 40 km/p but he still needs a CPC,” the agency said. “Although the buses cannot physically exceed 40 km/h, the relevant law permits them to be driven at more than 45 km/h.”
The document also offers examples of numerous scenarios where the often-cited exemption for a vehicle “which is carrying material or equipment to be used by that person in the course of his work, provided that driving that vehicle is not his principal activity” may (or may not) come into play.