Driver CPC changes – a missed opportunity?

Government announces response to consultation on Driver CPC, but trade body claims it is a missed opportunity

Following a consultation that ran earlier this year, the government has announced its recommendations for changing the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC).

The government recommends introducing a National DCPC (N-DCPC) that will cover driving a lorry, bus or coach in the UK. It suggests allowing training courses to be done in blocks of 3.5 hours rather than the current seven hours to allow greater flexibility. It plans to increase the amount of e-learning that can be done to 12 hours. However, these changes will only apply to the N-DCPC for driving a lorry, bus or coach solely within the UK.

The intention is to introduce these changes in summer 2024.

The reforms effectively create two DCPC routes – national and international. Those wanting to drive a lorry, bus or coach outside of the UK will need to complete the training within the existing rules which will not change from 35 hours of training every five years, as it currently stands.

The government is also looking to speed up the process for drivers whose DCPC has run out to return to driving a PCV in the UK. This would be by allowing them to take seven hours of training before returning to the sector and making the remaining 28 hours up within the first year. This would only be for NDCPC and is not expected to be introduced until 2025.

The Department for Infrastructure (DFI) in Northern Ireland has confirmed it will replicate these reforms in the region.

The government says further consultation is needed on the option of introducing a periodic test to take the place of training, as explored in the consultation earlier this year. This is expected to be launched in the new year.

Missed opportunity

Responding to the recommendations from the government, CPT’s Operations Director, Keith McNally, said: “Whilst we welcome the limited amount of additional flexibility that the government recommendations will introduce, parts of the bus and coach sector are continuing to experience significant driver shortages and this announcement is a lost opportunity in terms of helping address those.

“We are very disappointed that the minimum course duration recommended is 3.5 hours; the proposal for shorter course modules would have enabled drivers to undertake some training on normal working days, rather than taking them from behind the wheel for a whole day.

“Measures to make it easier for drivers to return to a driving role are now not expected until 2025 and proposals to introduce a periodic test option as an alternative to 35 hours of training will also be subject to further consultation. In light of the driver shortages that continue to be seen, we had hoped for rapid progress after the consultation in March 2023.”

Declan Pang, RHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy, England, said: “We support the proposals for greater flexibility in how the 35 hours of training is delivered, greater use of e-learning and a fast route for returning drivers.

“We note that Government will consult further on introducing a new periodic test as an alternative to 35 hours of training for drivers looking to renew their DCPC. We believe the periodic test alone is not in line with maintaining safety standards unless it is combined with mandatory training. Therefore, if a test option was to be introduced, it can only be alongside formal training.”

  • Results of the consultation that ran between March and April can be found here.



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