Transport minister Robert Goodwill has called on the European Commission to consider introducing greater flexibility in the rules about Driver CPC (DCPC) training when it comes to the minimum seven-hour training periods currently required.

In its official response to an EC call for evidence about the effectiveness of the DCPC, the DfT said it “would support greater flexibility to be applied to within reason enable periodic training courses to be delivered in less than seven hours (e.g. 2 x 3.5 hours)”.

The DfT has also told the EC it does not support the idea of any post-training testing of drivers and disagrees with calls for a uniform DCPC syllabus for all drivers across the EU.

The DfT’s response, based on responses to a consultation conducted recently by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), has been welcomed by industry bodies.

James Firth, head of road freight and enforcement policy at the Freight Transport Association, told there was “no specific reason why the seven-hour limit exists” and that it was “too long, in some cases, for effective learning”.

Imposing an EU-wide syllabus, Firth added, would remove the option for operators and drivers to identify the most appropriate training themselves and force drivers to undertake training that was irrelevant.

Skills for Logistics CEO Ross Moloney backed the DfT’s rejection of any test at the end of DCPC training. “I am particularly concerned about the role DCPC may play in the UK’s LGV driver shortage… anything that has the potential to exacerbate this shortage, such as a test at the end of training, is certainly a concern,” he said.

A report on the recent DSA consultation, published by the DfT alongside its response to the EC, shows that just 9.5% of respondents believe the DCPC  has “significantly” increased safety on European roads. Just under 44% of 748 respondents to the question said it had “only marginally” done so and nearly 47% said it had not contributed to safety at all.

Meanwhile, just 11.6% of consultation respondents said they felt the DCPC had contributed significantly to the development of the level of professional competence of drivers, with 47.4% suggesting it had made only a marginal difference and almost 41% saying it had had no impact at all.

The DSA had not responded to our request to comment at the time of writing.