The haulage industry has given a cautious welcome to government plans to review the Driver CPC.
The review, announced last week, follows concerted lobbying by industry leaders who have warned government ministers that the bureaucratic nature of the Driver CPC is acting as a barrier to both new and returning drivers and exacerbating the HGV driver shortage.
Announcing the review last week, transport secretary Grant Shapps said: ”We’re listening to industry leaders who have told us about the issues HGV drivers face with CPC arrangements. Now we’ve taken back control of our own laws and regulations, I’m delighted to say we’re launching a review into these training rules.”
However hauliers gave a qualified thumbs up to Shapps’ announcement. Kevin Buchanan, group chief executive officer at Pall-Ex Group, said: “There is a lot of spin coming from this government and very little substance, so I do have reservations about what will come out of this.
“However it does need to be reviewed. Driver CPC has failed to do what it was created to do. It has just driven mature drivers out of the industry whilst at the same time failing to raise driving standards or professionalise the industry.”
Buchanan called for a graduated licence scheme to replace Driver CPC, with drivers rewarded accordingly for attaining each grade and assessed on levels of insurance claims, safety and fuel efficiency.
“We need to create gold standard drivers and that would also benefit operators who would see their insurance premiums fall,” he added.
David McCutcheon, MD of Bullet Express, also welcomed the review which he said was long overdue.
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“Anything that speeds up the qualification of drivers and gets them on the front line would be a big help to operators,” he said.
“The Driver CPC drove a lot of good drivers out of the industry and there must be a lot of them out there now thinking that they would come back if not for the CPC.
“The CPC is nothing more than a box ticking exercise and the government officials who put it in place clearly did not understand the industry and have never checked its benefits.”
McCutcheon stopped short of calling for the abolition of the Driver CPC. “The government needs to reduce the length of the course and make it cheaper, perhaps through offering a government grant.”
He criticised the government for its failure to take action on the driver shortage. “We have a whole fleet of HGV drivers out there and no one has done anything to try to incentivise them back in their cabs. For the past three to four years the government has had its head in the sand. They just don’t get the industry. Why haven’t they built the facilities that drivers need and why are they not incentivising them to return?”
Charlie Shiels, ArrowXL chief executive, said the Driver CPC was ill-designed from inception and called on the government to carry out a swift and effective review.
“It was clear from the start that many drivers are just not built for the CPC, which has far too much bureaucracy and paperwork and is far too cumbersome. We always knew it would be a bloody mess – the whole framework was constructed by people who just don’t understand drivers and so we lost a lot of very good, experienced drivers.
“So the review is positive news. The government is making all the right noises, so hopefully something will come out of this. But the question now is how long will that take and what the outcome will be?
“The devil will be in the detail and in the timing – we do not want them to take months to do the review. They say they have listened to the industry so now they need to keep listening to the industry.”
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