The Government is changing the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification.

It follows a consultation outlining a series of proposals. This closed in April, with the Department for Transport (DfT) receiving more than 1,100 responses.

From the results and comments, the government has decided that increased flexibility will benefit the qualification.

Further consultation is expected. This will look at a new periodic test as an alternative to 35 hours of training, for drivers looking to renew. With the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers, it is hoped this will encourage drivers looking to return to the sector .

Attraction over safety

This announcement includes reforming training by reducing the minimum course length from 7 hours down to 3.5 hours. It also looks to decouple e-learning from trainer-led courses.

Furthermore, it says that it will develop more core course content and encourage informal assessment at the end of modules.

Changes for training reforms will be brought into force through secondary legislation using powers within the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act.

The intention is to bring forward this secondary legislation next summer. However, this will not include the introduction of the new periodic test.

Periodic testing will be brought into force at a later point.

Safety or necessity

Driver CPC was introduced in 2007. It is initially obtained by completing four test modules consisting of a two-part theory test, case studies, a practical driving test and a practical demonstration of vehicle operation.

It is then renewed by completing 35 hours of periodic training every five years.

When introduced, it was believed it would improve road safety and the safety of the driver. It also hoped to raise the professional recognition of drivers. It was hoped this may also attract greater interest in the profession and increasing the number of drivers.

Mixed views

Publishing the results of that consultation , it found that a third (33%) of respondents reported that the Driver CPC was either effective or very effective at improving road safety. This compares to 38% of respondents saying it was either ineffective or very ineffective.

Respondents were made up of 63% drivers, 47% of whom said it was ineffective or very ineffective at improving road safety.

Amongst the other groups responding, more respondents felt that the existing qualification was effective or very effective (52%) compared to being ineffective or very ineffective (23%).

With trainers, 69% believe it was either effective or very effective at improving road safety.

Almost half (48%) of respondents said that it should be reformed, 39% that it should be abolished and 12% that it should stay the same.

Support for abolishing the Driver CPC was mainly among drivers (54%)