"A bit late, but the right decision in the end" – that’s the view of leading industry trade body, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) in response to the announcement from the Roads Minister, Stephen Hammond today (Thursday 8 August) that two more types of journey will be exempt from Driver CPC – the continuous training programme for professional lorry and bus drivers.
FTA has long been appealing to the Department for Transport (DfT) to introduce the exemptions from Driver CPC for a mechanic who only drives an HGV to and from a testing station for its statutory annual test.
The exemptions announced today now mean that such drivers will not need to take the five days of training every five years that professional lorry drivers must take by law.
Additionally the decision states that individuals who only ever make short, infrequent journeys which are not carrying a load for payment will be also exempt the requirement.
James Firth, FTA Head of Road Freight and Enforcement Policy said:
"At last – a common sense decision by the Government – FTA has long been calling for this exemption to be introduced. Professional lorry drivers have to work within a plethora of rules aimed at improving road safety, and it’s right that those driving for a living every day have access to continuous refresher training. But a mechanic who only ever drives HGVs on a public road to test them or take them for their statutory annual test, should not need to take the same refresher training as a professional, full time lorry driver."
Drivers who held their HGV licences before September 2009 will have to complete 35 hours of training by 10 September 2014, but for bus and coach drivers the deadline is 10 September this year – just one month away. The Department for Transport has indicated that this change in the law will not be in place by the deadline this year putting some drivers in a difficult position.
"It is disappointing that this has taken so long to be implemented and has happened at the last minute. While enforcement authorities are unlikely to take specific action against such drivers during the shortfall – which is expected to be a few weeks – drivers and operators still need to consider carefully their responsibilities for making sure drivers behind the wheel are road-legal. But in the long term, this is an unnecessary burden that the Government has, quite rightly, lifted from industry. "