Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Road Haulage Driver Regulation Changes for Freight and Tanker Operators and Drivers

UK Will Follow Through on Sensible Legislation as France Loses its Way on Highway Tax
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – Two pieces of road haulage news which have a profound effect on commercial vehicle drivers deserve to be looked at closely this month. Unlike the ill-fated ‘Ecotaxe’ scheme originally scheduled for introduction in France earlier this month to levy charges on freight trucks, and postponed indefinitely after protestors took to the streets in October, the British authorities are as unlikely to delay the introduction of the mandatory Certificate of Professional Competence for Drivers (DCPC) as the UK hauliers are to copy their Gallic cousins and riot in protest.

Whereas the French authorities continue to make conflicting statements on the future of the tax which was to see toll assessment and collection technology fitted to every chargeable vehicle, and the country's Parliament sets up an inquiry to examine its practicality, across the water every driver of a commercial vehicle exceeding 3.5 tonnes will need to carry a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) by September 10 or risk serious penalties.

The DCPC licencing system has already come into effect for PCV drivers and the rest of the commercial fold are mandated to follow in the next nine months. In order to obtain a DQC, acquired rights holders (those who gained a vocational licence before 10th September 2009) must complete 35 hours of Driver CPC training. Newly qualified drivers will have to pass additional tests in order to gain their DQC. Firms wilfully disobeying may lose their operator’s licence and both they and their driver could see £1,000 fines imposed.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, we witnessed the UK’s first Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) which became fully operational on schedule as of the beginning of this month. From 1 January 2015 all fuel terminals will require every petroleum tanker driver to be in possession of a current PDP and full details of fuel types covered etc. can be seen here. The UK Downstream Oil Distribution Forum (DODF) recently announced that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has been appointed as Scheme Manager for PDP and training centres have been able to apply for PDP approval from September 2013.

All petroleum tanker drivers will need to gain their PDP during 2014 and must take the full PDP if their ADR certification is due to be renewed in 2014, or if it is their first ADR. If a driver’s ADR is not due for renewal during 2014, there will still be the need to take an interim PDP which will be valid up to the expiry date of the existing ADR card. To achieve the full PDP it is necessary to undertake PDP training and a full written (multiple choice) assessment, set by SQA. This is taken alongside the existing five-yearly ADR renewal training and assessment and there will also be a practical assessment with a qualified and approved PDP assessor. Full details are viewable here together with notes as to how to replace a lost card.

Introduction of the scheme has seemingly met with universal approval with both Secretary of State Edward Davey and Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary of the Unite Union concurring it will improve safety in an inherently dangerous job whilst Brian Worrall, DODF Independent Chair, said:

“This is a significant day in the introduction of the petroleum driver passport. The scheme is now fully open for business and drivers can now work to obtain the PDP during 2014. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to integrate the PDP requirements with both ADR and with driver CPC, which is a great benefit to the industry. PDP can now go on to be the benchmark by which all petroleum driver training is measured and will give confidence to terminal operators, hauliers, customers and the wider public that all drivers have been trained to the same consistently high and externally verified standard in all aspects of tanker driving from pre-vehicle checks to loading, driving and discharging.”