Simon Elstow, IAM, looks at the pitfalls of the CPC system.
Since 2009 the EU has required its professional truck and bus drivers to undertake 35 hours of periodic training every five years in order to maintain their qualification to drive – Driver CPC. But is it training or education that makes for better drivers? What should the syllabus be?
The syllabus for CPC lists a thorough set of topics that must be covered. But where’s the common sense of insisting that you can simply repeat the same subjects for the whole of your 35 hours of CPC? Don’t laugh, it really is happening. Drivers need real-world education – not simply to be told the risks.
The misconception is the strangely-named concept of rational driving. Rational driving requires you to know how to control and manage your vehicle, including eco-driving. But we know that the real issue for drivers is distraction.
Ever since the 1950s, we’ve known that most drivers ignore the basic principle of defensive driving – namely, managing space.
Put simply, drivers crash because they run out of space before they (can) deal with their distraction. But the CPC syllabus appears to want us to believe that it’s all about ‘knowledge’ or ‘awareness’.
There is no sense of responsibility.
Professional drivers are already experts and Sir John Whitmore’s take on the old Taoist analogy of pouring water into an already full vessel springs to mind here.
In my opinion, the starting point with professional drivers needs to be from a coaching rather than a training standpoint. It’s easy, for instance, to keep space when you drive.
The challenge is not the skill to do it but understanding what is stopping you from doing it and taking responsibility for that.
So when our truck drivers go abroad and other drivers drive here, they may know all there is to know about the industry they work in and be very good at controlling their vehicle.
But safety should always be the first priority and if they didn’t see or make allowances for that cyclist, none of the knowledge really matters.