Thursday, September 11, 2014

Freight and Road Haulage Interests Sound Off on Driver CPC Situation

With Two Warnings for the Future Over Up and Coming Requirements
Shipping News Feature

UK – Any professional lorry driver who hasn’t received the appropriate and mandatory 35 hours of approved training by today is committing an offence which could render them, and their employers, liable to a £1,000 fine. Now the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have spoken out on the current situation, with the FTA also sounding a cautionary note for the future of the industry.

Both organisation’s say that their members have ensured that operatives have obtained the necessary training before this week’s deadline but equally believe that those who have neglected to follow a regulation which has been known about for a considerable time should not be allowed any leeway if caught breaking the law. Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) regulations came into force for new HGV drivers in 2009 when vocational drivers were required to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years. Existing vocational drivers at that time were granted until this week to undergo the same training. An RHA statement says:

“Basically, those involved in professional road haulage have got this issue sorted out in good time. If there are firms that have still not done so, we have to question whether they are suitable to be operating large, heavy vehicles. Those who are not qualified can become qualified in one week, so that they can get back to delivering goods legally. That should not be an insurmountable burden.

“Drivers and their employers have had plenty of time to get the necessary training completed. Some drivers are having problems as a result of licence renewal delays at DVLA but enforcement bodies are taking account of that. The DVSA and the traffic commissioners are fully justified and have the RHA’s support in enforcing the law from the start.”

The FTA sounded a critical note expressing frustration that administrative fixes and clarifications, which it is has longed called for, have only been issued by DVSA in the past week which have created confusion in the last critical days prior to the DCPC deadline. Also it raised the spectre of Christmas future when a host of agency drivers are often required to fulfil seasonal requirements, many of whom, as casual and occasional drivers, may not have concerned themselves with the CPC. FTA’s Head of Road Freight and Enforcement Policy, James Firth commented:

“The logistics industry is not going to grind to a halt as some have suggested, the figures indicate that most drivers will have got it done. But the deadline highlights a more fundamental problem of driver supply in the future. The cost of getting your HGV licence, the cost to companies of insuring young drivers, the lack of facilities for drivers on the road network and a generally negative image of the profession are all barriers to young people recognising the logistics industry for what it really is: a challenging and rewarding sector, which uses cutting edge technology to solve problems on a daily basis to keep the economic heartbeat of the UK strong and uninterrupted.

“The next few weeks will be a critical period in the road freight sector for government, enforcement agencies and the wider economy. A combination of the fast-recovering economy, the Driver CPC deadline, a shortage of qualified agency drivers and a series of administrative changes to driver licensing arrangements are creating the ‘perfect storm’ for fleet manager and piling pressure on scheduling plans for the Christmas peak period.”

Mr Firth makes a valid point regarding the introduction of new blood into the industry. With the average age of an HGV driver in the UK now standing at 53 there must be a concerted effort to recruit more youngsters, the days of starting as ‘van boy’ and proceeding to the driver’s seat have largely disappeared as the nature of the work has changed, particularly through the adoption of technology which has largely resulted in things such as the traditional flat back with roping and sheeting skills passed over in favour of tautliners, pallet wrap and ratchet straps.