On Target 8 – make driver CPCs count

Like many owners and directors in our industry, I hold and retain a PCV driving licence. For many years, we didn’t have to do anything other than submit to a medical every five years after the age of 45, and consequently I have had a few of the latter… so far with a clean bill of health.

Mind you, with some doctors it isn’t difficult to pass. I heard about a specialist provider who dealt with driver medicals en masse. It was very cheap, and I went along to see what happened. Well, very little. I sat in the waiting room with an assortment of drivers ranging from 40-stone downwards. I was called in, a quick listen to my heart, although I didn’t remove my coat and a urine sample which was instantly checked with a litmus stick whilst simultaneously expertly ticking off the form, with the other hand.

The “doctor” (I now have my doubts) pronounced me fit, but I had the impression if you could walk in unaided, you passed anyway. It all took no more than five minutes, so very much quantity, not quality. Needless to say, I don’t use that outfit, but I do prefer my drivers have an independent medical, which we arrange for them with a proper doctor.

Being fit to drive is one thing, but the Drivers CPC is quite another. I hear a lot of whinging from fellow operators at the moment, as many suddenly realise their drivers have not been kept up to date and if, like me, their CPC is due by September, they suddenly realise there isn’t much time to cover 35 hours, over five days. It is often considered a chore, to be obtained no matter whether it helps drivers to learn or they have the same approach as their boss of going through the motions.

I note in a recent letter in the trade press, an operator moaning that his drivers were subject to a day of HGV procedures and what good is that to them? Well not much, other than perhaps to encourage his drivers to move industries and drive a lorry. That way, they don’t have to be sociable and can play garage music on the radio all day, without any issues from those nuisances known as passengers. Don’t moan; make sure you book a course suitable for your operations; preferably annually, not crammed in one full week, where drivers get bored and it doesn’t achieve anything.

Here at Marksman Coaches, we have always been training led. The Driver CPC has made it more official, but we see it as an opportunity and even better, when I attend a session myself, with our drivers. You learn the drivers often know more than you, and it does much for the relationship between management and staff. There is no ‘them and us’ at Marksman!

We have both bus and coach drivers, so I make sure the coach drivers are not attending a course on running a bus route. Likewise, bus drivers have no interest in the rules of driving in mainland Europe. Not all drivers are the same. Whether you arrange your own courses, or your staff attend external courses, drivers are there to learn and, in my experience, drivers enjoy an ‘away day.’ They also learn from other operators’ drivers, no doubt comparing notes about their lot, but hopefully realising the grass is not always greener.

I firmly believe that drivers benefit from a varied training regime; it is a chance to ensure they know the basics but also to broaden knowledge of every aspect of their job. This raises the esteem of our industry among those who work within it. We can’t expect the travelling public to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves.

I treat my drivers as I would treat myself. I don’t expect them to do the DCPC in their own time and pay for the course themselves. Who would do that, you ask yourself? I never cease to be surprised at how many companies expect their drivers to take a day off for training, with no pay or use a holiday day. Is it any wonder we are short of drivers?

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