Some clarity for transport operators on Road Safety Authority (RSA) services (CVRT, Road Tax, etc.) as Transport Minister Shane Ross clarifies the legislative steps taken and an update on the temporary changes to Driver CPC.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross, has announced details of the legislative steps taken in support of the necessary closure of a range of Road Safety Authority services as result of the ongoing COVID 19 situation.
Under the new measures, the following have come into effect in relation to vehicle testing:
- NCT – Vehicles with a test that was or will be due on or after 28 March 2020 have that test date extended by 4 months
- Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Tests (CVRT) – vehicles with a test that was or will be due on or after 28 March have that test date extended by 3 months
The Minister has also taken the following steps in relation to driver licensing:
- Driving licenses due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had their date of expiry extended by 4 months
- Learner Permits due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had their date of expiry extended by 4 months
- Driver Theory Test certificates due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had that date extended by 4 months
- Certificates of Competency – issued when people pass a driving test and required when applying for a first full driving licence – due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had that date extended by 4 months
- Initial Basic Training certificates for motorcycle learners due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had that date extended by 4 months
In addition, and in line with the arrangements previously in place for NCT certificates in relation to private cars, it will no longer be necessary to have a current Certificate of Roadworthiness (CRW) in order to tax a commercial vehicle. You should be able to renew your motor tax for a commercial vehicle from 21 April 2020, without need of a CRW.
Minister Ross said: “As people will understand, because driving licence offices and NCT facilities are closed there will be no issuing of new documents – you will not be receiving a new driving licence with the new expiry date on it, nor will you be receiving a new NCT. However, the Garda Síochána are aware of the changes and will accept your current licence or disc as being valid for the new period. Similarly, if you have an out of date CRW or commercial motor tax disc, the Garda Síochána are aware of the issue and a pragmatic approach will be taken at this time, given that it is not possible to have these vehicle tests done or, in some cases, to have commercial motor tax renewed. I am pleased to see that Insurance Ireland have said that their members will treat licences and NCTs covered by these measures as valid for the extended period, and I would like to thank them for acting in the public interest at this time. Although driver licensing and vehicle testing services are suspended, motor tax renewals (whether for commercial vehicles or privately-owned cars) can, in most instances, be transacted online at www.motortax.ie. Motor tax offices are also continuing to process postal applications.’
Update on Driver CPC
The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic that we are currently experiencing has brought with it many changes and disruptions. Similar to other state bodies, the Road Safety Authority is working to ease the pressure faced by many essential workers in ensuring that compliant drivers receive every support to enable them to do their job at this critical time.
In order to drive a truck or bus professionally throughout the EU, drivers must have a valid Driver CPC card (this is obtained after completing CPC periodic training of 35 hours in each five-year training cycle). In Ireland, Driver CPC periodic training is provided by Road Safety Authority (RSA) approved Driver CPC Training Organisations. Training is classroom based and drivers are required to complete one day (seven hours) of Driver CPC periodic training each year.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 crisis, Driver CPC Training Organisations initially reduced their class numbers to ensure the HSE guidelines regarding social distancing were enforced during the CPC training day. Since the 27th March public and private gatherings of any number have been banned resulting in no Driver CPC training taking place.
Some professional drivers were impacted as they were in the process of completing their final training modules and renewing their CPC qualification card when CPC training was suspended. In order to minimise the disruption and ensure a continuous flow of goods within the EU, drivers with valid Irish Driver CPC cards that were due to expire during the current Covid 19 outbreak were granted an extension up to the 26th September 2020. No new or replacement cards will be issued with the new temporary expiry date and drivers will be required to complete any outstanding periodic training in advance of the 26th September 2020. On completion of the required training, renewal Driver CPC card’s will be issued as normal with an expiry date of 5 years from the date of expiry of their current Driver CPC card.
Ireland has many thousand compliant qualified professional drivers, in 2019 alone, in excess of 33,000 drivers renewed their Driver CPC cards and to date this year in the region of 5,000 CPC cards have already been issued.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to explore alternative solutions to classroom-based training. At the current time there is no legal provision in place for the RSA to allow drivers complete CPC training online or for CPC training organisations to conduct training through one of the online conference services. Driver CPC training is classroom based and Irish legislation governing CPC training states training must take place in an RSA approved Driver CPC training centre.
With more people working remotely as a result of the pandemic, we can all see the benefits of web-based video conferencing and there is no doubt it is the way forward. However the possibility of using this tool for a minimum of seven hours of classroom time with up to sixteen drivers linking in from various locations around the country will have to be explored and developed further before it can be introduced as part of the CPC training process. The introduction of online training is an option that the RSA are currently investigating once it is in keeping with national and EU legislation and driver compliance can be established.