Driver CPC training: buyers' guide
Since 10 September 2014 every vocational driving licence holder has had to complete 35 hours of driver CPC (DCPC) training every five years, with the next round of training required to be completed by 10 September 2019.
If they do not do so and are stopped by the DVSA or police, both operator and driver will be liable for prosecution for using the vehicle without a valid licence, and insurance cover may be invalidated.
The driver CPC, which also applies to bus and coach drivers, is covered under pan-European legislation (European directive 2003/59/EC) and its objective is to drive up the standard of all professional drivers across Europe. Despite the UK’s plan to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, the UK government has shown no sign of scrapping the training requirement on this date.
Driver CPC: step-by step
All operators should:
- Establish how many drivers need driver CPC training. It is an operator’s choice whether or not to train drivers who are due to retire before September 2019.
- Set aside a training budget. This must include not just the training fees, but also the hidden costs such as travel and meals, agency driver cover, time in lieu, etc.
- Establish the training needs of both the business and the drivers. This should look at drivers’ strengths and weaknesses, and how they impact on the business.
- Decide on training methodology. Does the operator want drivers trained en masse, individually or attend sessions with drivers from other companies? Does it want them trained in classrooms or cabs? What can it afford? Does it have the skills to develop and deliver in-house training?
- Choose suitable training provider, focusing in particular on course content, track record, training methodology and flexibility. Its credentials should be checked with JAUPT, the government body that overseas driver CPC courses.
- Ensure drivers know why they are being trained and ask them to approach the training with an open mind, no matter how experienced they may be. Remind them they are the beneficiaries. Reassure them that there are no exams. Make sure that they remember to take their driving licences to the courses.
- Debrief drivers as soon as possible after training. Make sure that they attended the course and had their hours recorded. Keep copies of their certificates of attendance.
- Try to quantify the outcomes of the training. Is there a reduction in tachograph infringements after a tachograph course? Do fuel returns improve after an economic driving course? Train the high-risk drivers first to test the effectiveness of the training and get benefits as soon as possible. Use this information to inform a future training strategy for maximum effectiveness.
- Conducting routine checks of Driver Qualification Cards, which are issued to drivers upon completion of their training.
What the law requires
Drivers of LGV vehicles, holding a category C, C+E, C1 or C1+E licence, will need a driver CPC. That means everyone entitled to drive a goods vehicle over 3.5-tonnes GVW.
New drivers who pass their HGV driving test must also take a ‘DCPC initial qualification.’ The driving test is just one of four parts of this initial qualification and the driver needs to pass all four parts before being awarded an initial DCPC qualification, allowing him or her to drive trucks for a living. For these drivers, the five-year period in which to complete the next course of 35 hours training begins from the date when the initial qualification was awarded.
Drivers will be automatically issued with their driver CPC cards (also known as a Driver Qualification Card or DQC) free of charge upon completion of their 35 hours of training.
Drivers of military or emergency services vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVW do not require a DCPC – but only when driving those vehicles. If driving a normal truck to deliver a load, they need a DCPC. Similarly, technicians and other workshop staff driving trucks for maintenance-related reasons do not need a DCPC, but they do if they are delivering a load for commercial purposes.
Also exempt is the driver of a vehicle that “carries material or equipment to be used by the driver in the course of his or her work, provided that driving the vehicle is not the driver’s principal activity.” So, for example, a scaffolder driving a lorry carrying scaffolding would not need a DCPC provided he can demonstrate that scaffolding rather than driving is his main activity.
Owner drivers are not exempt; nor are drivers who hold a transport manager’s CPC. More detail on exemptions is available on the JAUPT website (see link below).
Developing a training strategy
A driver is ultimately responsible for ensuring that they have a current DCPC. That could mean paying for the training and undertaking it in their own time. Owner drivers have no other option.
Agency drivers should check if their regular agencies are getting involved with DCPC training or whether they must make their own arrangements.
It would be unwise for operators to leave it to drivers to organise their own DCPC: if they fail to do so it could have serious repercussions for the business.
The breadth and variety of DCPC courses provide an opportunity to use the training to improve particular aspects of their drivers’ performance that will benefit the drivers and company alike. It can be the catalyst for cultural change in a business, helping operators introduce best practice and get to grips with risk assessment.
The European directive for DCPC dictates the training syllabus, which isbroken down into three categories:
- Advanced training in rational driving based on safety regulations. This covers courses such as: making optimum use of the gearbox to suit an engine’s performance curves; use of braking systems; optimisation of fuel consumption; load distribution; load security; centre of gravity; handling equipment.
- Application of regulations. This includes courses about: working and driving hours rules; use of the tachograph; O-licensing; goods documentation.
- Health, road and environmental safety, service, logistics. Course topics under this heading include: risk awareness; manual handling; diet and health issues; accident procedures; service levels; structure of the haulage industry.
There is a huge range of courses that fall within these broad subject areas and it is possible to choose any combination of topics.
Scheduling of the courses is entirely flexible: one could take one course in each year of the five year period or even undertake five courses on consecutive days, completing all the training in a single week.
Truck drivers who hold a bus/coach PSV licence are allowed to include any PSV DCPC training as part of their HGV DCPC training total (or vice- versa) because the DVSA does not differentiate between hours spent on either type.
Choosing a training provider and courses
Only training companies approved by JAUPT can deliver the courses. Whichever provider an operator chooses, it is very much a case of ‘buyer beware’. The driver CPC logo has appeared on material from organisations that are not approved by JAUPT, and not all courses offered by JAUPT training bodies are approved for driver CPC purposes. Fortunately, operators can double-check by using the JAUPT website. Unless both the training organisation and the course are listed, then it’s not a valid course.
Diligent managers may wish to assess courses and trainers by either taking up references from previous clients or sitting in on a training session. It is important to check the course content, examining the material that will be delivered rather than just a list of topics.
DCPC training must fit into routine operations so training companies need to be flexible. While some operators may choose to have a course delivered to a group of drivers at their own depot, others will struggle to take enough drivers off the road on a single day and so prefer to send drivers one or two at a time to train alongside strangers on an ‘open’ course run at the training company’s premises.
Training outside the classroom
Training behind the wheel is more expensive than classroom sessions but could easily pay for itself through better fuel consumption.
While tachograph and drivers’ hours compliance understandably are popular DCPC topics, there can be few operators who would not benefit from improved fleet fuel economy. Some of the courses aimed at this objective are generic and may be classroom–based, while others are conducted on the road using either training vehicles or a truck from the operator’s own fleet.
Truck manufacturers are among those who offer road-based courses approved by JAUPT. Mercedes-Benz, for instance, uses specially adapted trucks with multi-seat cabs that operate from a range of training centres or can visit customers’ depots. Renault Trucks, on the other hand, sends a trainer to ride with the driver in their own vehicle.
Fuel savings from such courses are reckoned to quickly repay the cost of the training. Some manufacturers, like Volvo Trucks, also offer classroom-based tuition, either at an operator’s premises or their own, and covering a range of topics. Mercedes-Benz lists over a dozen DCPC courses, including some covering specialist areas such as driving municipal vehicles or the carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR).
The old adage that says ‘if you think training is expensive, try ignorance’ will not wash. DCPC training is mandatory and operators need to budget for it.
Truck manufacturers’ in-cab training is at the top of the price range, but classroom training provided off-site by the likes of training companies, truck manufacturers and trade associations such as the RHA and FTA generally comes in at £69- £97 per delegate, per day. Expect to pay a similar amount for courses run by well-known national training providers such as AA DriveTech.
Bear in mind that most published prices do not include the £1.25 ‘upload fee’ per hour, per driver, which JAUPT charges for training providers to send training records to the DVSA’s central database. If the training company fails to upload the data, the course will not be recorded and so will not count.
Some independent training companies many offer cheaper training courses, but it is worth checking that this is not at the expense of course content and quality, large class sizes or inconvenient timings/locations.
Some operators have set up their own in-house DCPC training, but the cost of doing this makes it uneconomic unless there is a big training requirement. There is a fee of £1,500 for approval as a training centre, payable every five years. Each hour of every course approved costs £36, making a total of £252 for just one seven-hour course. This fee is payable annually.
There is a hybrid method of DCPC training where an external training provider supplies the course material (under their JAUPT registration) but the operators are responsible for delivering it to their own drivers.
The use of load handling equipment is among the huge range of subjects that can count towards the 35-hour training requirement for a driver CPC qualification.
Every seven-hour course delivered is recorded by the training provider on the DVSA’s central DCPC database. Drivers also receive a certificate of attendance from the training company at the end of each course. When the driver has clocked up five seven-hour training sessions the DVLA will automatically send the DQC to their home.
The card expires five years from September 2014, not the date on which training was completed. Certificates of attendance and the DQC are the property of the driver, irrespective of who paid for the training. The driver must carry the card when they are driving professionally and he or she must be able to produce it when requested by the police or DVSA.
With each driver’s training potentially spread over five years it is important that operators have a robust system to monitor and record individuals’ training as it accumulates.