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Driving the new Profession

Driving the new Profession

One of the questions Westhill Insurance often get asked is “what may invalidate my fleet insurance?” One thing that could invalidate fleet insurance would be if fleet vehicles are driven by personnel that haven't gained the necessary qualifications. While the company policy may be that all drivers are supposed to have been through the process of qualification, the moment an unqualified driver takes the wheel, there is the danger of fleet insurance being invalidated in the case of a claim. At Westhill we pride ourselves in advising existing and potential clients about such potential issues and the following information provides details about the relevant regulations.

In the past recruitment of new drivers for Coach and Haulage companies was fraught with danger. It wasn't too many years ago that a new recruit off the street could just produce a driving licence and in theory then be set free in a valuable piece of equipment. Many companies had their own in house testing, but by their very nature there was no consistency and were always under the operational pressure of needing new drivers.

This was not only a problem in the UK, but was multiplied across the whole of the European Union. The view was generally held that something had to be done to improve the driving standards of professional drivers across the whole of the EU. The ultimate aim was to establish and then maintain high standards of driving throughout the EU and ultimately improve road safety for all road users. The EU has been working to resolve this situation for a number of years and the legislation is now in place to ensure that drivers who drive professionally are thoroughly qualified. This directive became a legal requirement in all member states for bus and coach drivers in September 2008 and for all lorry drivers in September 2009.

This eventually led to the requirement that professional drivers of Large Good Vehicles (LGV) and Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCV) would require not only a valid driving licence for such vehicles, but also a further qualification. The additional qualification is called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) and is designed to improve the knowledge and skills of professional drivers throughout their working life. It should be seen as continuous professional development. Every professional driver should therefore carry not only their driving licence, but also their CPC in the form of a Driver Qualification Card (DQC).

It's worth noting at this stage the difference between the requirements for new and existing drivers;

• New Drivers first of all will have to obtain the relevant driving licence. Once this is acquired they will now have to obtain their Driver CPC to be allowed to drive professionally. Once qualified they will obtain their DQC.

• Existing Drivers are exempt from the initial Driver CPC as they are deemed to have “acquired rights”. They will then obtain their DQC once they have completed their 35 hours training.

Once these drivers are CPC qualified, either via the new qualification or via “acquired rights” they must maintain their right to drive professionally by under taking periodic training. This training must be at least 35 hours over a rolling five year period.

So what are Professional Drivers expected to know?

The basic qualification will cover subjects such as;

Fuel efficient driving
Defensive driving techniques
First aid
Health and safety
Drivers hours regulations
Using tachographs

The more advanced additional training will take in additional subjects such as;

Know the characteristics of the transmission system to make best possible use of it.
Know the technical characteristics and operation of the vehicle's safety controls, minimise wear and tear and prevent malfunction.
Ability to optimise fuel consumption.
Ability to load the vehicle with due regard for safety rules and proper vehicle use.
Know the social environment of road transport and the rules governing it.
Be aware of the risks of the road and accidents at work.
Prevent criminality and trafficking of illegal immigrants.
Ability to prevent physical risks.
Awareness of the importance of physical and mental ability.
Ability to assess emergency situations.
Ability to adopt behaviour to enhance your company's image.

In addition there are some subjects which are specific to particular industries;

Bus and Coach IndustryRoad Haulage Industry
Ability to ensure passenger comfort and safety. Know the regulations for the carriage of goods.
Know the regulations governing the carriage of passengers. Know the economic environment of road haulage and the organisation of the market.
Know the economic environment of the carriage of passengers by road, and the market's organisation.

Training Course Availability

The Driving Standards Agency is responsible for the delivery of the CPC qualification. They have approved training centres and the courses they deliver. They are also responsible for keeping records of drivers, the courses they attend and the hours of training undertaken.

Westhill Insurance don't just provide you with fleet insurance but we aim to highlight anything that may be an issue in the event of making a claim. If you have any questions about fleet insurance at all then please don't hesitate to contact us for advice without obligation.

Posted on 24th March, 2010