Driver CPC: time for reform? Paul Gardiner of 37 PLUS writes for T&D

Paul Gardiner of 37 PLUS writes for T&D

Leaving the room at 4pm I felt a small burst of happiness. My CPC course was over and technically I didn’t have to think about it again for five years. I was only hanging in there as a driver to gain my new five-year-expiry Driver Card. This would give me something to fall back on, as I intended to move away from the steering wheel side of things. I wondered how many other experienced drivers were entertaining these thoughts. Drivers’ hours was the module and I wasn’t happy as I had done this before. It couldn’t be helped as, apparently, the company could only find this course at short notice so here I was for the day. Instructor Mike Ward was the best I’d had but his hands were tied by the course content, which was relevant but tedious. As with previous courses, the whole shebang was based on constantly reiterating how much you would be stopped and fined by the DVSA. There were some non-lorry drivers on the course who needed to do it for other reasons,
and they were astounded by the number of hoops we have to jump through to complete an honest day’s work without being hit in the pocket or reprimanded in some way by officialdom.
Any new driver attending would have come away with the worst impression possible of the DVSA and the industry. The DVSA is a necessary evil but based on personal experience of being stopped seven times in two years, I’m inclined to think that a bad attitude from the driver is also a contributing factor when fines are handed out. I think it’s time we stopped using these courses as self-sabotaging DVSA shoot-outs. Many on the course had been stopped and not fined as, quite simply, they were not trying to cheat.
One lad struggled to stay awake and I also struggled in a small classroom of 18 men. There were a few issues on the day that I believe are of no benefit to the industry and retaining drivers. My
company paid for my course and gave me nine hours’ pay for the day. Some weren’t so lucky. After chatting to some drivers there was a combination of employed drivers who had the course paid for but lost a day’s pay to attend while others had to come in on a weekend when they would otherwise be off work, as the company can’t afford to lose them midweek.
Another driver had to use a day of his own holidays to ensure he got some pay that day. Add to that eight hours of mind-numbing facts and figures and it’s safe to say the small amount of course content digested on the day will have now been largely forgotten.
The best way to learn things is in short bursts over a period of time. Seven hours per year should be available online in one-hour modules and completed, say, once per month. This could be set up easily with multiple-choice answers and completed at the driver’s leisure, such as during waiting periods or coming into work an hour early.
There may be a case to argue that new passes still need the classroom experience with a tutor for their first 35 hours, but after that, we should be looking at doing it online. How many lost working days and money would this save drivers, companies and the industry as a whole?

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