As of September 2009, a new EU directive ensures that all commercial drivers in the EU member states undergo periodic training to maintain their driver status. This new directive also introduced the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC), which is in addition to the regular vocational licence that all drivers must obtain.
Initial CPC testing
The initial test is divided into two sections. The first section consists of both theory and practical tests, which the driver must pass before they can take their vocational licence test. The second section is optional, to be taken only if the driver wants to get the DCPC, which would allow them to drive commercial vehicles professionally. This gives the driver the option of getting only the vocational licence, or to have Driver CPC status at the same time.
Included in this new directive are provisions for on-going driver training, called periodic training. After the initial DCPC, the driver must complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years, if they wish to maintain their Driver CPC status. The periodic training can be undertaken in 7-hour blocks, in one working day, and this can be spread over the five-year period. The requirements are that the driver receives a minimum of 7 hours per session, and that the 35-hour training is completed within the statutory five-year period.
Driver CPC exceptions
If a commercial driver of coaches and buses obtained their licence before September 2008, they do not need to take the initial CPC tests. Commercial lorry drivers that received their vocational licence before September 2009 are also exempt from taking the initial tests. This does not exclude the driver from periodic testing, which must be completed in order to maintain their Driver CPC status.
Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training (JAUPT)
All periodic training centres and trainers must be approved by the JAUPT, a company set up to oversee the application and quality assurance of all driving centres within the UK.
The DQC card
Once a driver completes the CPC and has been registered with the DVSAby a qualified instructor, they will be issued with a Driver Qualification Card (DQC). This card is proof that the driver is compliant with the DCPC, and must be kept with the driver whenever they are on the road. Failure to do so may result in penalties.
Driver training for improved road safety
All professional driving agencies should have an ongoing driver training scheme, which enables drivers to complete their periodic training according to schedule. This training should incorporate good driving practices, such a safe load distribution and hazard perception awareness.
Driver competency training
All commercial drivers should receive regular competency instruction, which should include a review of the company’s road safety policy. Legislation is constantly changing, which means the employer should keep abreast of amendments and ensure that all drivers are receiving not only their periodic training, but also any additional instruction that might be relevant to the class of vehicle they drive. With safety in mind, the goal of every commercial driver should be to receive ongoing professional development relative to the vehicle they drive.