The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) is a qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. Drivers need to do 35 hours of periodic training during a period of five years in order to maintain their Driver CPC after the fifth year. It has been introduced in Europe in order to improve road safety. The UK has started using Driver CPC from September 10th 2009.
The Driver CPC is a qualification that goes on top of a standard driving licence and is needed for people who are new to professional driving and want to drive a bus; coach or lorry. In most cases, it is also required for any drivers of lorries over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with 9 seats or more.
New drivers obtain their Driver CPC after passing a series of qualification tests – both theoretical and practical ones. Those qualifications are then followed by 35 hours of training every 5 years in order to keep the Driver CPC once the fifth year is over.
The initial Driver CPC is divided into 4 parts: 2 are theoretical exams and the other 2 are practical ones.
The theoretical tests are:
- Theory test (this includes 2 separate tests - multiple-choice and hazard perception)
- Case studies test (computer-based exercise with 7 studies based on real-life situations – e.g. driving in icy conditions)
The practical tests are:
- Driving ability test
- Practical demonstration test (this takes 30 minutes – you will need to show you can keep your vehicle safe and secure, e.g. loading your vehicle safely)
Once all those tests are passed, drivers will receive their Driver CPC. If a driver wants to get a vocational licence but do will not be driving for a living, they need only take and pass the theory test and the driving ability test.
As mentioned above, the qualification lasts only five years if drivers do not complete a 35 hours of periodic training during the course of five years starting from the moment they get their Driver CPC cards. Drivers can check the number of hours done throughout the five years online.
Periodic training is delivered through courses that drivers attend over five years starting from the moment they get their Driver CPC card. Those courses have no final examination.
Courses length starts at seven hours and can last longer. If a course of seven hours has to be cut in two parts, the second part will take place within 24 hours of the end of the first part.
Drivers of PCV (bus and coach) vehicles prior to 10 September 2008 need to complete 35 hours of training and have their Driver Qualification Card (DQC) issued and received by 9 September 2013. The DQC will be valid till 9 September 2018. Drivers of LGV vehicles prior to 10 September 2009 need to complete 35 hours of training and have their Driver Qualification Card (DQC) issued and received by 9 September 2014. The DQC will be valid till 9 September 2019.
The next period of training can start from 10 September 2013 for PCV drivers or 10 September 2014 for LGV drivers but must be completed before the expiry date of their Driver Qualification card.
In several cases, a Driver CPC is not required. Some of those cases are mentioned below:
A Driver CPC is not required if the vehicle driven is:
- used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods for personal use
- used to carry material or equipment you use for your job - but driving the vehicle can’t be the main part of your job
- used for driving lessons for anyone who wants to get a driving licence or a Driver CPC
- used by, or is under the control of, the armed forces, civil defence, the fire service and forces responsible for maintaining public order
- used in states of emergency or for rescue missions
- driven to or from pre-booked appointments at official testing centres
- driven within 50km of your base, is not carrying passengers or goods, and driving a lorry, bus or coach is not your main job
It is possible for drivers to have the Driver CPC through “acquired rights” if they are already professional lorry, bus or coach drivers. These “acquired rights” acknowledge the driver’s experience on said vehicles, and count as the same as taking the Driver CPC qualification. However, they still need to do 35 hours of periodic training every five years.
Drivers must always have their Driver CPC card with them while they are driving professionally. If they are asked to produce their card while they do not have it, they are liable for penalties.
Drivers with acquired rights can use their existing driving licence as proof of their Driver CPC until the deadline by which they are required to complete the periodic training.
The Driver CPC is enforced in all European Union (EU) member states. If the driver is driving in another EU country, they must still hold a valid Driver CPC, unless they have an exemption.