In March 2023 Department for Transport published a consultation to seek views on proposed changes to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC). If these changes are implemented, they will only apply to drivers completing journeys within Great Britain, and Northern Ireland if authorities there agree, as DCPC is a devolved matter.
Drivers wishing to drive to, from or within the EU will still need to comply with the existing requirements due to arrangements within the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), as well as other relevant UK international obligations.
Proposed changes will therefore create 2 parallel qualifications for driving in GB and, potentially, NI:
- a national DCPC (N-DCPC) – the subject of this consultation
- an international DCPC (I-DCPC) – the existing TCA-compliant regime
The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) is a qualification that professional drivers of certain goods or passenger carrying vehicles must hold in addition to their driving licence. It was introduced into domestic law as a result of EU legislation.
In the UK it is initially obtained by completing 4 tests consisting of:
- a 2-part theory test
- case studies
- a practical driving test
- a practical demonstration of vehicle operation
Drivers maintain the DCPC by completing 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years. Completing 35 hours of training allows a driver to drive for commercial purposes for 5 years.
PACTS report, What kills most on the roads, published in 2020, highlighted that light and heavy goods vehicles posed the most risk to other road users. PACTS believes that professional training and standards are particularly important for drivers of heavier vehicles to ensure an adequate level of competence and safety is maintained whilst driving on UK roads. This is not only for the benefit of drivers themselves but also for the safety of other
road users by ensuring the skills of drivers are regularly updated. Incidents with heavier vehicles are more likely to lead to serious injury or death, especially for other road users.
Driving a heavier vehicle is significantly different from a car, and as per the hierarchy of road users, as set out in the Highway Code, those driving the heaviest vehicles have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users. As noted in conclusions 2 and 6 of the DCPC review paper, DCPC requires reform to refocus training from prescriptive course completion to outcome-based learning. PACTS would
support the inclusion of assessments at the end of the training module. PACTS strongly disagrees with the second part of conclusion 1 of the review paper and we do not support the proposals for the periodic test to remove all mandatory training requirements. It is difficult to clearly identify the road safety improvements that have resulted from the DCPC, but the number of accidents involving HGVs has fallen by 68% since 2007, when the
DCPC was introduced. PACTS will be supportive of proposed measures only where they do not negatively impact road safety and do not increase the risk of collisions involving these vehicles.