The Driver CPC Interim Evaluation, which was commissioned by the Driving Standards Agency and prepared by consultancy AECOM, involved consultation with the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Road Haulage Association (RHA), Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and sector skills councils including Skills for Logistics.
In addition, 21 in-depth interviews were undertaken with both PSV and freight fleet operators, while the views of more than 100 more were sought in an online survey. 216 drivers were also surveyed face-to-face. VOSA and the traffic commissioners were also consulted, along with driver training companies and agencies, police and bus passenger user groups.
Said the report: “There is near universal agreement that the level of awareness around Driver CPC is not sufficient. The road transport industry has a large number of small organisations who are difficult to reach. Despite various communications being sent by trade associations and in the trade press it is felt that many of these operators and drivers would not read them so would not be fully aware of what is required.”
While smaller operations were thought to be the most problematic in terms of compliance, one interviewee reportedly stated: “that he believed at least one large PSV operator would struggle to meet their training quotas and may be forced to seek some form of exemption once the [September 2013 PSV] deadline passes.”
One method of raising awareness suggested by contributors to the research was for the traffic commissioners to write to every O-licence holder, informing them about the requirements for Driver CPC. This, stakeholders felt, was less likely to be ignored.
Feelings were mixed in terms of the implementation of the DCPC. It was felt that some operators were “choosing courses based purely on cost, regardless of the course relevance or the benefits – effectively performing a box-ticking exercise.”
Even so, other drivers were attending courses aligned closest with their business needs. In the passenger transport sector therefore, customer service, disability awareness and first aid were among the most popular; while in goods transport, Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving (SAFED), drivers’ hours and safe loading were favoured.
Anomalies with the scheme highlighted by the research included the lack of exemption for driving a vehicle to a test station, as reported by Transport Operator earlier this year; and courses being run as CPC when inappropriate or not allowed, such as transport managers’ courses or tanker ADR training.
Operators cited training costs as their number one concern regarding the scheme, closely followed by a lack of enthusiasm from drivers in the LGV sector, and worries about meeting the looming deadlines, particularly for PSV.
Nonetheless, around three fifths of operators consulted were positive about Driver CPC, with less than a quarter of all respondents having a negative opinion. LGV operators (26 per cent) were more likely to be negative than PSV operators (15 per cent), however.
Perhaps predictably, drivers were less enthusiastic. 55 per cent of LGV drivers and 40 per cent of PSV drivers expressed either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ negative views of the scheme.
29 per cent of drivers surveyed had not undertaken any DCPC training, citing limited funds and time as the two main reasons. Bus and coach drivers now have less than five months to complete the required 35 hours of training to become compliant, whilst goods vehicle drivers have until September 2014.
Meanwhile, 86 per cent of operators who completed the survey said they had not experienced a driver being asked to show their driver qualification card (DQC), which the report said suggested authorities appear not to be making regular checks at present.
The DSA report can be read in full here.