“The European Parliament’s transport committee has backed changes to professional driver training rules that could lead to large numbers of lorries being driven by drivers who have received no professional training in addition to their regular HGV driving license. Is this a wind down of Driver CPC?
Voting on a report in response to a proposal from the European Commission to revise the ‘Driver Certificate of Professional Competence’ (CPC) rules last month, the committee included an amendment that would exempt drivers from the requirements for additional initial and periodic training if they stay within a 100km radius of their base. The amendment says the exemption should only apply to workers whose ‘principal activity’ is not driving. There are fears and concerns amongst many organisations that the definition could create a major challenge to enforcement authorities. A loophole could see Coaches and HGV’s being driven commercially by drivers who will not have completed periodic training.
The periodic training regulation (2003/59 EU) makes professional drivers update their qualifications every five years. The exemption proposed by the committee could see HGV’s, buses and coaches being driven by drivers even if they haven’t updated their driver CPC periodic training. It might even be the case that drivers with no training what so ever will be able to drive commercially.
A recent posting on Facebook by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) promoting Driver CPC saw Driver PC criticised by over two hundred and forty posts. There is something very wrong about how the Driver CPC is perceived. Now we are seeing this reflected by our MEP’s.
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has argued that professional driving rules should be extended to van drivers. The parliament failed to do that, and have potentially weakened the existing coverage of the legislation dramatically.
Around 4000 people die each year in the EU in collisions involving HGVs, a similar number die in collisions involving vans.
Antonio Avenoso, executive director of ETSC said: “With road deaths in Europe stagnating and increased public concern about large vehicles operating in urban areas, the transport committee is adding insult to injury by potentially letting thousands of drivers escape training that can save lives.”
If the EU allow this dilution of the regulation it will be a retrograde step for the role of the professional driver. This will take the professional aspect out of the role and return the driver to the status of unskilled labour. We were all there in the early 2000’s when there was carnage on our roads and anyone with a pulse was allowed drive a truck or coach. People who haven’t driven large vehicles for decades could potentially get behind the wheel of a coach carrying children or a heavy lorry driving through urban areas.
“It is incredibly important that member states remove this dangerous exemption and ensure that changes to driver training rules lead to improvements in road safety, not a weakening. This is a big step backwards for road safety and we urge member states to reject this proposed change.”
Ruth Purdie, General Secretary the European Traffic Police Network (TIPSOL) said: “We are concerned that these proposed changes could lead to great difficulties for enforcement. Follow-up checks by police to gather information on how much time an employee spent driving as part of his or her job would be a significant administrative burden that could lead to reduced enforcement of other essential road safety issues.”
The final legislation is now subject to ‘trilogue’ negotiations, closed-door negotiations between members states, the Parliament and the European Commission. A final deal will also need to be formally approved by the full Parliament and transport ministers of the 28 EU member states.
The EPDA are asking the question “Is this a backward step in road safety terms. Why would a person in charge of a HGV or Coach driving within a 100km radius not have to be subjected to the same level of safety training as a driver under Driver CPC regulations? This calls into question the actual importance of the Driver CPC programme. Is it necessary? What effect to road safety has Driver CPC made since it was introduced in 2008 for Buses and 2009 for Trucks?