Evidence suggests that the vast majority of drivers will have completed their 35 hours’ periodic training by the September 10 deadline.
Before the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) was brought in, industry stakeholders were asked how many professional bus, coach and lorry drivers were in scope.
Their estimate was between 500,000 and 750,000. This figure was then revised following the exemption covering 75,000 valets and fitters to between 425,000 and 675,000 drivers.
The current figures show that nearly 800,000 drivers are engaged in Driver CPC and just over 564,000 have completed their 35 hours’ training. And in July 2014 alone, over 1.1 million hours of training were logged.
The latest figures also show that 24,245,741 hours of periodic training have been taken by professional drivers since 2008.
Drivers and their employers must stay on top of their Driver CPC training requirements or risk being fined and even losing their livelihood, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Office of the Traffic Commissioner have warned.
Existing drivers were awarded ‘acquired rights’ which took their previous experience into account and allowed them five years to do their first block of 35 hours’ training.
The deadline is now a month away and DVSA is urging all ‘acquired rights’ drivers to make sure they complete their 35 hours before September 10, 2014.
Driver CPC has a lot to offer and it’s up to drivers and employers to make sure they get the most out of it by choosing courses that are relevant to them and the type of driving they do, or courses that develop their knowledge in a new subject area.
DVSA’s chief executive, Alastair Peoples, said: “Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world and one of the ways we aim to keep them so is by encouraging all drivers to keep their skills up to date. This is particularly important for professional drivers.
“We’re encouraged by the number of drivers participating in periodic training, but we urge all professional drivers and their employers to be aware of the deadline and make sure they’re able to comply.
“DVSA enforcement officers already routinely check the Driver CPC status of professional drivers. After the deadline they’ll be able to check whether ‘acquired rights’ lorry drivers have completed their training or are driving illegally. Not being aware of Driver CPC is not an excuse for drivers or operators and there will be no amnesty period.”
The message is echoed by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner who urge transport managers, directors and licence holders to be aware of their driver’s training hours, and the deadline, to avoid penalties.
Joan Aitken, lead Traffic Commissioner on Driver CPC, said: "Driver CPC is not an optional extra. The industry has been given plenty of notice of the deadline and any offences will be reported to traffic commissioners.
“Vocational licence holders and operators could find themselves appearing before commissioners if drivers are found working without their driver qualification card (DQC), or fail to produce it.
“Traffic commissioners were pleased to see a high level of compliance by operators and drivers ahead of the deadline for the bus and coach industry a year ago.
“We very much hope that the goods industry will prove to be on the ball too and that the need for prosecutions or referrals to traffic commissioners will be limited."
Driving without the DQC, or failing to produce it, carries a maximum fine of £1,000 – for both the driver and the operator licence holder. These offences will be referred to the Traffic Commissioner.
The Traffic Commissioner will then consider what action to take and this could include suspending the driver’s licence and/or the operator’s licence.
Since the introduction of Driver CPC, 245 drivers have received a fixed penalty for failing to produce evidence at the roadside, of which 124 were HGV drivers and 121 PSV drivers - 22 of these were foreign drivers who should have had Driver CPC.
DVSA have also reported 143 cases to the court for prosecution involving 123 defendants (drivers and operators). Of these, 23 were from the bus and coach industry and the remainder were from the haulage industry.
The majority of these cases were successfully prosecuted with fines of up to £1000.00. Some prosecutions were in relation to multiple offences.