Those drivers who are, at 10 September 2008, employed in a capacity to drive PCVs will acquire the Drivers CPC through grandfather rights; though will be expected to undergo 35 hours of Periodic Training over a five year period from the commencement date, i.e. completion of the training by September 2013.
New recruits to the bus industry after 10 September will be required to undergo Iinitial Qualification, consisting of four module tests. Once qualified, these drivers will similarly be required to undergo 35 hours of Periodic Training within 5 years of their Initial Qualification being attained.
Initial Qualification (all drivers new to the industry)
The four module tests comprising the Initial Qualification are as follows:
- Module 1 - based on the current vocational driving licence acquisition theory test, candidates will be required to answer 100 multiple choice questions followed by 19 hazard perception clips within a 2 hour 30 minute time period. In order to pass the theory test, a minimum benchmark of 85% is needed and spotting a minimum of 20 hazards is required to pass the hazard perception test.
- Module 2 - consists of a series of case studies designed to test each candidate's deeper understanding of the industry, not just their knowledge, followed by an end of module examination lasting 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Module 3 - contains the existing Driving Test procedure for vocational licences, the driving element being extended to a minimum of 1 hour and 30 minutes, driving a vehicle that meets the minimum test vehicle requirements.
- Module 4 - a "show me, tell me" session during which candidates will demonstrate their knowledge of vehicle safety issues.
It is possible for a driver to pass his or her vocational driving examination without studying for the new Drivers CPC at the same time. In this situation only Modules 1 and 3 need completing. An exemption of 12 months will be given before the Driver CPC must be acquired, though studying Modules 2 and 4 within a year following the driving examination being passed will be a requirement of the law. Drivers are still legally able to drive PCV vehicles during the 12 month exemption period.
Periodic Training (applicable to drivers already within the industry)
The 35 hours of Periodic Training can only be taken in conjunction with approved DSA Training Providers. Within the Drivers CPC Directive a syllabus has been provided, containing three modules:
- Advanced training in rational driving based on safety regulations
- Application of regulations
- Health, road and environment safety
At no point, under the current Directive, is there any requirement for practical driving to be assessed; nor at any point within the Periodic Training sessions is an end-of-session written examination expected - providing comfort to people within the industry who may never have been in a 'test environment' before.
Drivers who have acquired a Level 2 NVQ or BTEC will still need to undergo the Periodic Training to acquire their Drivers CPC.
Periodic Training hours given must be registered and recorded and will be used to issue Driver Qualification Cards, detailing the amount of training being given at any time. The cost of a seven hour course per driver is likely to be around the £100-125 mark, though firms may benefit by sending multiple numbers of drivers to receive a pro rata reduction, and in this case the fee to each employer per employee over the five year period is likely to be around £500.
Finally, are YOU a bus driver? Is reading the above information news to you? The Drivers CPC is real, it is coming into being officially from 10 September 2008 and you have to do nothing about it if you are in employment with a bus or coach company within the UK. Your employer has a legal duty to ensure you and all their staff meet the above standard to the agreed timeframe.
Having said that there are, as you might expect, exemptions and they are as follows:
- Drivers who only ever drive vehicles with a maximum speed of 45mph
- Those who drive vehicles for the armed forces, civil defence & emergency services
- Employees of companies driving PCVs undergoing road tests, technical development, repair or maintenance
- Vehicles driven in a state of emergency
- Vehicles used in the course of a driving lesson or examination
- Drivers of non-commercial carriage of passenger or goods - for personal use
- Vehicles used for carrying material or equipment to be used by the driver in the course of his or her work, providing that driving the vehicles is not the drivers' principle activity.
Not a PCV driver, or not planning to become one? The Drivers CPC is to come into effect for all Large Goods Vehicle drivers from September 2009 and will follow a near-identical procedure to the above PCV Drivers CPC.