In 2003, a Directive was passed which required professional drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with nine seats or more to possess a certificate of professional competence (CPC) designed to improve the knowledge and skills of drivers throughout their working life.
There are two parts to the legislation:
- An initial qualification to get the Driver CPC for new drivers along with their passing their truck or bus licence, to enable them to use their licence professionally.
- A periodic training programme of 35 hours of training every 5 years for all professional drivers to keep the Driver CPC.
Farmers are being reminded that it is necessary for drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with over 8 seats, to undertake at least 35 hours of continued professional competence (CPC) training.
This must be undertaken by 9th September 2013 for minibus drivers, and 9th September 2014 for lorry drivers. Driver CPC is a requirement for lorry and minibus drivers who drive professionally throughout the UK.
Driver CPC does not apply to those towing a livestock trailer behind a tractor or a 4x4, as these are driven on a different category of licence. It also does not apply to tractor or trailer.
You are exempt if the vehicle you drive:
- is carrying material or equipment to be used by the driver in the course of his or her work, provided that driving the vehicle is not the driver's principal activity
- is used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods, for personal use
- has a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 45 km/h
- is used by, or under the control of, the armed forces, civil defence, the fire service and forces responsible for maintaining public order
- is undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, or is a new or rebuilt vehicle which has not yet been put into service
- is used in states of emergency or assigned to rescue missions
- is used in the course of driving lessons for any person wishing to obtain a driving licence or a Driver CPC
- Vehicles driven within 50km of the drivers base and not carrying passengers and goods.
VOSA have asserted that the 'material or equipment' would have to be used by the farmer or farm worker as part of their job and so this exemption couldn't be used for taking goods or livestock etc to market. Only a court would be able to give a definitive legal interpretation.
The NFU has called for greater clarity as to when the exemptions in the legislation apply to agriculture. The Driver Standards Agency has stated that there is no flexibility to offer blanket exemptions for agricultural activities, or issue any guidance specifically aimed at agriculture. Similarly the minister for the DfT has clarified that whether an exemption will apply or not depends upon the particular circumstances at the time.
The DSA have issued generic guidance which can be found here.
If you passed your bus test before the 10th September 2008 or your truck test before the 10th September 2009, you are exempt from the initial qualification. This is known as "acquired rights".
All existing minibus drivers who hold a full valid category D, D1, D+E or D1+E will need to complete 35 hours of periodic training by 9th September 2013. All existing professional drivers who hold a full, valid category C, C1, C+E, or C1+E license (all over 3.5 tonnes) will need to complete 35 hours of periodic training by 9th September 2014. New drivers holding the above license categories will have to complete the 35 hours requirement within 5 years of the date of their initial training.
If you hold both D and C category licenses then you will only need to complete one course of 35 hours periodic training every five years, not 35 hours for each category. If you drive in both categories you must have completed your 35 hours by 9th September 2013 to continue driving D category (minibuses over 8 seats).
If you do not complete enough training before this date, you will have to take undertake 35 hours of periodic training before you continue to drive.
You must have a DQC card with at least 35 hours of periodic training on it after the deadline of 9th September 2014 (HGV) or 9th September 2013 (minibus) if you are driving commercially.
Driver CPC requires all professional bus and truck drivers to complete a minimum of 35 hours periodic training every five years (or before the cut off date for acquired rights and then every five years) for as long as they wish to continue to drive professionally.
The minimum length of a training course is seven hours. Where a course of seven hours is split into two parts the second part must start within 24 hours of the completion of the first part.
Only approved courses taken with approved training centres will count towards periodic training. The approval process for courses is managed on behalf of the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) by the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training (JAUPT).
A list of approved training centres can be found through on their website here.
The DSA will provide a central database to keep records of the periodic training completed by each driver. It will be the responsibility of the training centre to enter records onto the database.
The periodic training you take is designed to complement your work and be relevant to your every day job. Courses can include fuel efficient driving style training, defensive driving techniques, first aid, health and safety, driver s hours regulations and tachograph. Courses will also enable drivers to keep up to date with changing regulations. A training program should broadly cover:
- Safe and fuel efficient driving
- Legal requirements
- Health and safety, service and logistics
We would advise all members who drive trucks and buses as part of their business activities to assess where they stand with regard to these exemptions and consider periodic training for their drivers before the first two deadlines of September 2013 and September 2014, to avoid the potential for breaches of legislation.
If you have drivers with the above category equivalent from other EU Member States, the last 7 hours of periodic training must be completed in the country of employment or residence i.e. the U.K.
NFU Mutual in conjunction with RAC can arrange training for groups of farmers at a reduced rate. The NFU has also secured a deal with RHA to enable individuals to obtain their member rate. Read more here.
Anyone who passed their driving test for a minibus or coach (D1, D1+E, D, D+E licence) after the 10th September 2008 or their lorry driving test (C1, C1+E,C or C+E licence) after the 10th September 2009 must also pass the initial Driver CPC qualification to drive for a living.
In addition to the theory and practical test to get your driving licence, you will also need to pass a computer based and another shorter practical test to gain your initial Driver CPC qualification.
The computer based test uses case studies to test your knowledge and how you put it into practice through multiple choice questions or by clicking areas on photographs/images etc. The test will take 1½ hours to complete, it can be taken at the same time as the basic theory test and has a maximum score of 50. You need to get 40 to pass the bus test and 38 to pass the truck test.
Drivers who already hold a Driver CPC for one category of vehicle (i.e. bus or truck) and wish to obtain a Driver CPC for the other category, will need to take a conversion test rather than the full test, however they will still need to complete a full practical Driver CPC examination.
The Driver CPC practical test focuses on vehicle safety and lasts ½ hour. It covers the following topics:
- Ability to load the vehicle with due regard for safety rules and proper vehicle use
- Security of the vehicle and contents
- Ability to prevent criminality and trafficking in illegal immigrants
- Ability to assess emergency situations
- Ability to prevent physical risk
- Demonstrate your ability through a physical, walk round vehicle safety check
- LGV tests may also use a piece of equipment which will allow you to demonstrate your ability to secure loads.
The test consists of 5 topic areas which cover the Driver CPC syllabus and in order to pass you need to score 15 out of a possible 20 points in each topic area (75%) and an overall score of 80%.
After you have passed your driving test and both parts of the initial Driver CPC qualification, the DVLA will send you a Driver Qualification Card (DQC). You must carry your DQC whilst driving and there will be penalties if you are found to be driving professionally without one.
Following this initial qualification, you need to complete 35 hours of training every five years to retain your Driver CPC, as detailed above.
Read our Q and A briefing here.
GOV.UK Driver CPC - The Basics
JAUPT Driver CPC Homepage