September 10th is the deadline for truck drivers to have completed their CPC training. It will then be an offence for a driver to drive a vehicle which is subject to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence requirement or for an employer to cause or permit a driver to drive such a vehicle. However, as drivers enter the second round of periodic training, how effective has the driver CPC been and what is its future?
The driver CPC regulations implemented EU Directive 2003/59 relating to the initial and periodic training of drivers of certain road vehicles. Within the directive, there was a provision for the European Commission to monitor and report on the implementation of the directive.
The report highlighted variations in the implementation of the Directive across the various member states. The Directive gives 7 exemptions, yet not all member states fully apply all the exemptions. There is variation across the EU as to whether the periodic training needs to be taken as a single course or spread over a period of time and as to the content of the training programme.
The Commission held a public consultation on the effectiveness and measures to improve the driver CPC followed by a stakeholder conference earlier this year to discuss options on how to improve the driver CPC.
One issue is whether or not the exemptions from the requirement to either do the initial driver CPC training or periodic training should mirror the exemptions to the drivers’ hours rules. The two are quite distinctive and separate pieces of legislation and just because a particular category of vehicle is exempt from the requirement to use a tachograph doesn’t mean that the driver is exempt from the requirement to have a driver CPC. The only exemption which is similar in both pieces of legislation is the Article 13 exception to the drivers’ hours rule for “vehicles under 7.5 tonnes where the vehicle is used for carrying materials, equipment or machinery for the driver’s use in the course of his work, subject to being used within 50km radius of the operating centre and that driving of the vehicle is not the driver’s main activity” and the exemption to the Certificate of Professional Competence Regulations of “a vehicle carrying materials or equipment to be used by that person in the course of his work, provided that driving that vehicle is not his principal activity”. The current view appears to be that the number of exemptions from the requirement to hold the driver CPC should not be increased. However, if there is to be a level playing field across Europe then the exemptions need to be applied in a uniform manner.
The consultation highlighted the need to improve the training system; it has to be more adaptable to the needs of drivers and companies. However, with such diverse training courses across Europe, how to do this will be difficult. There was a lack of consensus as to whether or not it was helpful for the Directive to allow for drivers to repeat the same training, but that a module training system would be a good way forward.
The results of the consultation will now be considered by the Commission for the next steps of the review process. Whether or not any amendments are made to the Directive and what they are remains to be seen, but the driver CPC has to not only engage drivers but also be effective training in terms of both cost and increased knowledge.