The UK Government has announced reforms to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC). These changes could have relevance to truck and bus drivers on both sides of Irish Border and affect their day-to-day activities and movements.
The UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) has long campaigned for reform of Driver CPC to increase its flexibility whilst acknowledging the importance of continuous training to ensure professionalism and safety standards are maintained.
The British Government proposals include the following reforms for drivers operating in the UK to be introduced in the summer of 2024:
- Reducing the minimum course length from 7 hours to 3.5 hours. The total of 35 hours every five years remains.
- Decoupling e-learning from trainer-led courses to allow more at-home learning.
- In spring 2025, introducing a fast route for drivers to return to the workforce through a 7-hour course.
- The existing qualification will remain for drivers who operate internationally.
Declan Pang, RHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy, England, said: “We support the proposals for greater flexibility in how the 35 hours of training is delivered, greater use of e-learning and a fast route for returning drivers.We note that Government will consult further on introducing a new periodic test as an alternative to 35 hours of training for drivers looking to renew their DCPC. We believe the periodic test alone is not in line with maintaining safety standards unless it is combined with mandatory training. Therefore, if a test option was to be introduced, it can only be alongside formal training.”
The reforms effectively create two DCPC routes – national and international.
The Department for Infrastructure (DFI) in Northern Ireland has confirmed they will replicate these reforms in the region.
More information on the announcement can be found here.gov.uk/…/driver-cpc-changes-overview-of-responses-and-government-response
Reaction to the modifications has raised concerns in Ireland – “It creates an vast series of loopholes and endless layers of unnecessary bureaucracy that will deliver no benefit. The drivers must still complete 35 hours in the 5 years. However, it does raise one question that might be worth raising with the powers that be before it becomes an issue.
Does the proposal then raise a question about NI drivers operating from NI to IRL and their CPC requirements, and what would be acceptable to the authorities here.”
“It would be almost impossible to enforce. As of now there are some difficulties around the issue of drivers along the Border. Drivers living south of the Border and working in the north and visa versa. Before Brexit although the training programmes were different, the qualifications were similar. It is not guaranteed that the other member states will accept the UK curriculum or qualification.”