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The RHA held a National Training Conference at Birmingham’s National Motorcycle Museum last month. Describing 2012 as the year Driver CPC ‘comes of age’ the day was dominated by discussion of this most emotive of subjects. Seen by some as the way forward to improve the sector’s image, others view it as a government cash-cow with too many “cowboys” delivering training.

However, conference chairman Richard Fry started the day with the message that was consistently delivered throughout: Whatever you think of it, the Driver CPC is not going away.

“We must therefore ensure this message gets across and ensure we are geared up to cope with the inevitable last minute rush that is going to happen,” said Fry, who is a director at Frampton's Transport Services. Below is a selection of key stories from the day.

Employers to face action if drivers don’t complete Driver CPC

Employers, not just their employees, will find themselves before Britain’s traffic commissioners (TCs) if drivers have not completed their periodic training by September 2014. Speaking at the RHA National Training Conference, senior TC Beverley Bell made clear her support for continuous professional development, stating “driver training is essentially about investing in your staff”.

Bell set out the position of the TCs in regards to the fast-approaching deadline for those granted grandfather rights to complete their Driver CPC, revealing there would be no clemency.

The senior TC has met Vosa boss Alastair Peoples to discuss Driver CPC enforcement. A likely outcome will be a mailshot sent to the 85,000 registered goods companies in Britain reminding them of their responsibilities.

In effect, the TCs expect operators to be able to show the steps they have taken to ensure their employees have valid licences and, at the appropriate time, driver qualification cards (DQC).

Bell suggested that come September 2014 operators should conduct an additional audit of drivers to check they have completed their training.

“Around this time we will be sending out another letter, saying ‘remember our mailshot from 2012?’,” she said. “Depending on your answers [explaining the measures taken], we may call operators to a public inquiry.

“It’s not something we want to do, but we will. It means real vehicles, off real roads, not doing real deliveries.”

Drivers with grandfather rights that have not completed their 35 hours of periodical training by the 2014 deadline will be called to a driver misconduct hearing, where their licences will be suspended until they do.

In May, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) revealed that both driver and operator would be fined £1,000 if the driver was caught working professionally without a DQC in their possession.

Trainer complaints

The DSA has received more than 60 complaints about poor Driver CPC training since September 2009 and is currently investigating 25 complaints. As a result of its investigations, one centre has had its approval revoked and another ceased to trade following a police investigation.  Other centres have had training hours suspended pending further investigation or removed from the recording and evidencing system due to the course not being approved at the time of delivery.

DSA: not far from Driver CPC target

The head of post test operations at the DSA has said the Driver CPC is here to stay and called on operators to be pro-active in delivering and promoting it.

Speaking last month at the RHA National Training Conference, Guy Chamberlain acknowledged concerns about the consistency and quality of training available. However,  he dismissed evidence that not enough drivers are undertaking training ahead of the September 2014 deadline. “We are not far off the target [of Driver CPC hours] to meet the training requirement.”

According to Chamberlain,  about 9.3 million training hours have been logged, with the DSA expecting this to reach 12 million by the year end. The DSA has been working to a perceived target that between 625,000 and 800,000 drivers (LGV and PCV) need Driver CPC training.

At the conference it revealed 93,740 Driver Qualification Cards have been issued and the active LGV/PCV driver pool stands at 529,121 (those who have done at least seven hours of Driver CPC training).

However, Sean Pargeter, director at EP Training and a conference delegate, said DSA’s target remained an estimate, that in a best-case scenario means 100,000 drivers need to start their training, and worst-case nearly 250,000 drivers have yet to start. “Either way you look at the perceived figures, there are still an awful lot of drivers who have not started,” he added.

Research from Skills for Logistics  suggests there is already a shortfall of 1.7 million Driver CPC hours. A recent poll of 1,000 drivers by recruitment agency ADR found 63% (627) had not started CPC training. And data gathered by Driver Hire at this year’s CV Show suggested just half of drivers were on track to meet the deadline.

There are nearly 1,200 Jaupt-approved Driver CPC courses, delivered by about 3,000 training centres.