The Armed Forces would struggle to operate to the required levels of efficacy if it didn’t use heavy vehicles. Aside from tanks and other armoured vehicles, Service-leavers might well have driven other large vehicles and have their sights set on a new career in logistics.
The good news is that despite isolated difficulties such as those being experienced by drivers as they pass through the Channel ports of Dover and Calais, the UK’s road transport sector is currently in a period of growth.
According to a report by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) new heavy goods vehicles (HGV) registrations are just 2% below their 2008 level, having decreased up until 2012. Since then they have increased for two years running by 6% and 23% respectively.
Service-leavers should also note that the FTA has identified that 49% of transport and distribution managers and 38% of HGV drivers are over the age of 45 and that FTA members expect the number of redundancies to reduce and the number of staff to increase in the next year – both attractive trends in any sector.
The first step to becoming a professional LGV and passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) (lorry or bus) driver is gaining your Driver CPC (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence). This was introduced in the EU in 2003 and is a way of increasing the level of knowledge that drivers have before they take to the roads.
All drivers are required to undertake 35 hours of (periodic) training every five years to ensure that their Driver CPC remains valid. Periodic training allows drivers to refresh their skills and knowledge regarding safety and other best practice concerns about courteousness and fuel efficiency, for example – and it’s also an opportunity to keep up-to-date with any changes regarding driver regulations that occur.
Once you’ve passed your Driver CPC you’ll be given a driver qualification card which you must carry with you whenever you’re driving professionally (or risk a £1,000 fine.)
From that point onwards new drivers can decide to take the periodic training courses, as long as they are completed within five years of gaining the initial qualification. (Periodic courses must be from approved training providers.)
Freight Transport Association
Gaining The Driver CPC Initial Qualification
The Driver CPC initial qualification has 4 parts:
Part 1 – theory test – which includes two separate tests: multiple-choice and hazard perception.
Part 2 – Driver CPC case studies – This is a computer-based exercise with seven studies based on real-life situations – such as driving in icy conditions.
Part 3 – driving ability test – This will include questions on vehicular safety as well as a practical road driving module and off-road exercises. (It is likely to last for 90 minutes.)
Part 4 – Driver CPC practical demonstration test – New drivers need to show that they can keep a vehicle safe and secure, for example, loading a vehicle safely. (This part is likely to take 30 minutes.)
You must pass all four parts to get your Driver CPC and it is necessary to take the test in a particular order. You must:
- Pass Part 1 before you can take Part 3.
- Pass part 2 before you can take Part 4.
You can take Part 1 and part 2 in any order, and can take Part 3 and Part 4 in any order.
For Part 1, you can take the multiple-choice and hazard perception tests in any order, and on different days or on the same day.
Ready To Roll?
A career on the open road certainly has its advantages and you’ll doubtless be bringing some of your Military style skills and qualities to the fore. Here’s a checklist to see how suited you are to a role in road transportation:
Responsibility: Drivers will not only be interacting with other drivers on the road but also, periodically with clients. Remember you’ve got the company logo emblazoned all over the vehicle. Reputation is important.
Safety: By extension from responsibility, driving safely will help to get you and your load to your destination intact and without incident.
Alert: Be alert whilst on the road to changes in road conditions and recognise that not all drivers are as careful as you are. Keeping well rested is a good starting point.
Independent: You’ll probably spend long periods of time on your own traversing lonely dual carriageways and the like. You need to be a self starter and happy in your own company – as well as able to deal with any issues on your own initiative.
Driving record: A good driving record will underpin your employability as a driver. Good drivers are cheaper to insure.
Mechanics: There may be times when you’re against the clock when you can’t wait for the breakdown van. You may need basic knowledge of how to repair simple problems.
Maintenance: Lorries travel hundreds of miles. Basic maintenance will keep the vehicle in good order and within safety standards.
Stamina: Not only will you have to drive for hundreds of miles, you’ll probably also be required to unload – or pick up another load.
Timeliness: Time is money. Deadlines are there to be met.