Wednesday 22 October 2014

VOSA clarifies transitional enforcement around new Driver CPC exemptions

With the periodic training deadline for bus and coach now passed, VOSA has clarified that it will not issue fines or penalties to those found breaching Driver CPC rules if they are to be covered by new exemptions announced by the government, but not yet implemented.

The Driving Standards Agency recently announced that around 76,000 individuals, including mechanics, who drive heavy vehicles for short distances for the purposes of delivery or repair, will soon be exempt from the requirement to hold the Driver CPC.

The news of the new exemptions came just weeks before the Driver CPC training deadline for bus and coach operators, which passed on 10 September, leaving no time prior to that date to amend the necessary legislation. Shortly before Transport Operator went to press in September, however, VOSA confirmed that: “between 10 September 2013 and the date when the new regulations come into force for PSV drivers with acquired rights, VOSA will not prioritise pursuing Driver CPC infringements against people who would be exempt once the new regulations were introduced [and] not issue fines or penalties to those people.”

The policy U-turn follows an accelerated consultation on the subject during June, after trade groups including the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA) raised concerns with government over its interpretation of the European directive behind the Driver CPC scheme.

Mechanics taking vehicles for annual test, for example, had previously been said by the government to require Driver CPC – but the associations said this was placing a burden on the industry that was disproportionate and unnecessary.

The reversal of the controversial policy, which is being presented as an efficiency triumph by the government under its ‘Red Tape Challenge’ commitment, follows Transport Operator’s continuous coverage of the issue since February this year. The change is set to save UK businesses £29 million in the first year alone, roads minister Stephen Hammond claimed.

Said Hammond: “Driver training is essential to ensure that lorry and bus drivers keep their skills up to scratch and keep our roads safe.

“But making the training compulsory for those who only drive HGVs over short distances – because they are delivering them for repair or testing – is costly and time-consuming. That is why we are making these exemptions which will reduce costs and administration for businesses.”

The exemptions are set to be implemented this autumn. The first exemption, the government says, will benefit both mechanics and valets, and will apply in scenarios where “no goods or passengers are being carried, the vehicle is not being used for hire or reward, driving heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) or public service vehicles (PSVs) is not the driver’s main job and the vehicle remains within 50 kilometres of the driver’s base.”

The second exemption, said to benefit mechanics, “applies as long as the vehicle is being driven to an official test at a VOSA or authorised testing facility.”

The DSA said it had received 141 responses to the online consultation, including from traffic commissioners, driver trainers and vehicle operators, dealers and hirers.

“The overwhelming majority of respondents supported the proposals in full,” the DSA added, “while five respondents were totally opposed.”

Some respondents had raised the issue of whether existing rules would be enforced during the transitional period prior to the enactment of the legislative changes that will be required to introduce the exemptions, which the agency vowed to bring forward “as soon as we can.”

The DSA said: “We will publicise any changes to be made to the legislation and implementation date as soon as possible.” While VOSA has since said it will not issue fines or penalties to those who would be exempt were the planned changes already in force, the DSA also warned that driving without a CPC may invalidate a driver’s insurance policy.

“Whilst DSA hopes that the insurance industry will take a pragmatic approach in these circumstances, concerned drivers are encouraged to discuss this with their insurance providers,” it said.

Of costs incurred by companies who had already begun Driver CPC training for the affected individuals, the DSA said: “There is no case for the repayment of any costs incurred. The proposal to amend the legislation was not a result of an error in the implementation of the EU Directive. The proposal emerged following representations made by the various industry stakeholders.

“Drivers who completed their DCPC benefit from the training received and from having a transferable qualification and their employers benefit from having better trained employees.”

James Firth, head of road freight and enforcement policy at the FTA, was quick to welcome the change in policy.

“At last – a common sense decision by the government – FTA has long been calling for this exemption to be introduced.   Professional lorry drivers have to work within a plethora of rules aimed at improving road safety, and it’s right that those driving for a living every day have access to continuous refresher training,” he said.

“But a mechanic who only ever drives HGVs on a public road to test them or take them for their statutory annual test, should not need to take the same refresher training as a professional, full time lorry driver.”

He continued: “It is disappointing that this has taken so long to be implemented and has happened at the last minute. While enforcement authorities are unlikely to take specific action against such drivers during the shortfall – which is expected to be a few weeks – drivers and operators still need to consider carefully their responsibilities for making sure drivers behind the wheel are road-legal.  But in the long term, this is an unnecessary burden that the government has, quite rightly, lifted from industry.”

The government is also reviewing whether the scope of exemptions can be extended in respect of farmers – and has said it will also be reissuing guidance shortly “to clarify the situation for drivers with grandfather rights minibus entitlements, to enable them to progress straight to the periodic training element of Driver CPC. This will considerably cut burdens on this small group.

“So where driving requires CPC, D1 (NFHR) and D (NFHR) licence entitlement holders will now be able to progress straight to the CPC periodic training requirement of 35 hours training per 5 years, rather than needing to take the initial licence acquisition and CPC test as well.”

21 comments

  1. Too little, too late as usual.

    Shame on the FTA and RHA for their legendary lethargy towards supporting their respective membership. Shame also on a bungling and inept Government department for trying to reform a botched and ill planned training programme called driver CPC.

  2. This is good news for the industry for the Mechanics .

    • Simon Lee says:

      The unloaded vehicle is still a problem, as a workshop we need to collect vehicles and sometimes they are loaded

  3. Terry Watling says:

    Who do I contact to claim our training fees back for our fitters that dont need a CPC now??

  4. Geoff Pridmore says:

    As for the vehicle being unloaded many trucks and trailers need to be loaded in order to pass the mot brake test eg tankers and multi axle vehicles with air suspension and Im sure there are many more. It needs to be addressed promptly. It should have been brought to the fore by VOSA, FTA or RHA .

  5. richard warner says:

    As a non vocational Driving licence holder for 40 years (both psv and HGV 1) I recently made enquires about CPC courses, If I take a first aid module 5 times and sit in a class room for 35 hours I pass.
    What a farce!

  6. Allen Dow says:

    Cpc what a waist of time.but it is our own fault every coach and lorry driver should of refused to do it and had a big demonstration.just like they do in Europe.soft Britian that’s the problem

  7. Allen Dow says:

    CPC JUST A JOKE

  8. MICK POWLES OF M&R POWLES COMMERCIALS LTD says:

    This maybe good news to the HGV workshop trade and Recovery services but this country is a joke the UK is just a training ground for the EU and BRUSSELS the RHA and FTA should grow a pair and say enough is enough we recovered 2 polish trucks in June and a question was put to them do you have a CPC card the drivers answer NO it only applies to UK what a load of crap why should the UK transport industry be vindicated in this way
    As for the government there use to be a program on in the sixties made by Jerry Anderson THUNDERBIRDS watch the MP’s in the houses of parliament you can see the strings being pulled by BRUSSELS

  9. Brian Ball says:

    I am at a loss for words and money spent on pointless training

  10. Kevin Stephenson says:

    Its nice to see some common sense eventualy…. Just dont no why my fitting staff have to obide the tachograph rule as it is just the same criteria as the driver cpc!! The vehicle has to be prosented for its annual test & has to be pre booked into an afficial testing station at particuler time & not hire or reward. my fitting staff are employed as hgv mechanics & not as a professional driver…

  11. Joe Brown says:

    I am now being priced out a job i have been doing for the last 16 years. I drive coaches and artics for a company which refuses to pay towards my dcpc. With an average take home wage of under £300pw to keep me and my familiy oni cant aford to take a week off and spend hundreds of pounds for a card to say im a good driver. No points or accidents ( touch wood ) in 16 years should mean im qualified.
    I am now looking for a job in a call centre.

  12. david brittain says:

    total agree self employed driver been a driver since 91 now neeed to sit in a class listening to some **** whose done a course to tell me the same **** day in day out for a week ooohh an rob me of 350 for the pleasure i love england

  13. s.ball says:

    CPC what a waste of time having taken the 5 parts I’ve got my card sat the same module 3 times because the trainer had only qualified to teach 5 different modules and it just worked out I attended the same each time, still didn’t learn anything except need to get out of an industry where we are treated like d***s .wonder how many will just retire in sept 14 hope its scrapped when they have no lorry drivers left only poles n the like

  14. john lewis says:

    cpc – what a load of bull****
    i thought the government were going to try and encourage small businesses, not cut their throats with yet more costs, and i mean major costs, to pay for yet more red tape.
    once again, the genuine businesses will have to stand extra costs while the cowboys carry on regardless.

  15. Andrea Cox says:

    I object to the driver CPC, as I attended college to obtain my International CPC in order to become a Transport Manager. I have 20 years experience in the industry and a class 1 licence, which I will be unable to benefit from in September 2014 for commercial purposes. Why should I sit 35 hours training when I am already qualified and read updates in the industry???

    • steve neave says:

      more our less the same comments as Andrea pointS out
      why a external cpc tm have to sit the modules 2&4 is pointless i think the cpc drivers cert is a good thing as it makes the tm job a bit easier but if the external transport manager has only say 20 hrs a week WORK he could drive for say two days a week to earn extra money can anybody make sense of this

  16. ray mitchell says:

    i always thought that the RHA and FTA were there to fight the cause for transport issues but it seems they are just part of the same swindle. when are all proffesional drivers in this country going to stick together like other countries and petition downing st about this cr*p ,you only need 100,000 signatures to get a reaction too many p*ssies in the industry nowdays,if i was still running lorries i.d have dropped a 40 footer in blackwall tunnel to make a protest not park up where told to ,IE park lane as is happened in the past when protests about derv prices have been so called organised and the fine would have neglegable compared to savings made im glad to be out of it .

  17. Phil bruce says:

    If all drivers get together and refuse to do the cpc.

  18. Les says:

    I think the driver CPC should only be taken by new drivers as I have held my licence for some years I have never had an accident neither have I gained any points I have also recovered many a loaded HGV I think vosa need to rethink their ethics on this policy I have also held a road freight CPC since 1991 this is an insult to my intelligence

  19. Stefan Heale says:

    The Driver CPC really is the most consummate nonsense ever to come out of that corrupt club which is the
    EU! I have held what used to be called a Class 1 since 1997 and I drive occasionally, when I can take time out from my core business which is aircraft maintenance. The most ridiculous part is that one can sit the same module 5 times and still qualify! It beggars belief. I wonder if I could put one of my employees to sit just the piston engines module 9 times to qualify for an aircraft engineer’s licence (EASA Part-66) without bothering about flying controls, principles of flight, aviation legislation, propellers, landing gear, etc, etc, and whether members of our government would like to be flown in an aircraft signed off by such a person?
    What about a driving test in which one only has to drive around a roundabout for 40 minutes and not bother with the hill start, 3-point turn, junctions, traffic lights, parallel parking and all the other nonsense? For the MOT test, would the tester only need to switch the lights on and off 5 times? Just asking!
    Just asking!

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