Government changes to the Driver CPC rules have left too many questions unanswered and do not take into consideration the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry, according to a CPC training provider Fleet Source.

It argues that while the changes are welcome they are based on a consultation which took place before the Covid-19 pandemic and which is therefore outdated.

The changes, announced last week, follow a consultation launched on 18 March - just days before the lockdown.

The consultation sought views on cutting red tape around course approvals and modernising aspects of enforcement.

The changes see 12 out of the 35 hours of CPC dedicated to e-learning - although the DVSA has yet to clarify how this will work with the current seven-hour modules system.

It also allows tailored training programmes for specific areas such as the transport of dangerous goods; an exemption for drivers in certain industries including agriculture, horticulture, forestry and farming; and continued recognition of the Swiss Driver CPC.

Fleet Source chief executive Nick Caesari said: “We appreciate that the DVSA launched this consultation just prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, so could not have anticipated the challenges in DCPC delivery during the crisis.

“But the DVSA also now needs to consider the significant technological advances in remote training delivery that have been made in the last few months.

Caesari also criticised the DVSA for leaving questions unanswered with no indication of how and when the changes will be implemented.

He said: “Although we welcome 12 of the 35 hours periodic training to be undertaken by e-learning, it begs the question: as seven hours is the current normal course duration, what time variation of this will they permit, for what type of courses and, what do they exactly mean by e-learning?”

Caesari called on the DVSA to consider the strides made in distance learning solutions during the pandemic lockdown.

“Our industry faces enormous challenges as we emerge from this crisis and anything which helps fleet operators to meet their training demands cost-effectively and flexibly, must be championed. The DVSA needs to do much more than merely tinker round the edges of the DCPC legislation,” he said.

Caesari pointed to recent research commissioned by Fleet Source which revealed that 79% of drivers would recommend e-learning to others, whilst 62% preferred it to classroom-based training.

“Citing ease of access, cost savings and reduced impact on the environment – no need for long journeys to and from the classroom venue – they have seen that today’s distance learning is leagues ahead of the old ‘death by PowerPoint’ and want to embrace it as we get back to business beyond the lockdown.

“The DVSA must ensure that the fleet industry is not left behind in the digital training revolution. Fleet operators and drivers clearly have a great appetite for the benefits and opportunities it brings. Now, more than ever, is time for transformative change in the commercial driver training sector,” Caesari concluded.