Keeping the logistics sector on the road

Keeping the logistics sector on the road

By Ed Hanna

The recent 2019 Logistics Report produced by The Freight and Transport Association (FTA) used data collected from around 500 freight and logistics businesses to provide an insight into how the sector is faring. It highlighted the importance of drivers.

The project showed that while the logistics industry had added around 200,000 jobs (mostly in storage and warehousing roles) the number of HGV and LGV registrations fell for the second year in a row, sparking concerns over a driver shortage in the near future.

Fleet management solutions company, Transpoco, summarised the situation, saying: “The report anticipates 15% of current vacancies for HGV drivers will not be filled; and for a further 36% of current vacancies, they anticipate a long delay to find the right candidate.” Clearly these trends could provide an opportunity for Service-leavers with driving experience, once properly qualified.

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)

The Driver CPC is the essential qualification you’ll need to gain if you want to drive a lorry (or bus or coach) professionally. Assuming you’re over 18 years old and have a full car licence the process is as follows:

Provisional licence

Just as you did when you originally learnt to drive you’ll need to apply for a provisional lorry licence by ordering forms D2 and D4 from DVLA.

Theory test

Once you’ve got your provisional licence you can book part 1 of the Driver CPC theory test. (While the test is over two parts you have to book both separately – although they can be taken on the same day.) You’re required to pass both parts within two years to gain your theory test certificate. (Your pass certificate is valid for two years from when you passed the first part of the test. You’ll need it to book your Driver CPC part 3 driving test.)

Part 2 test: case studies

You’ll be asked between six and eight multiple-choice questions about seven case studies that you’ll work through on a computer. The case studies are short stories based on situations that you’re likely to come across in your role as a driver.

Part 3 test: driving ability

The practical test lasts for approximately 90 minutes and includes questions on vehicle safety, practical road driving and off-road exercises.

The practical road driving aspect of the test is designed to show the examiner how you:

  • use the vehicle controls
  • move away at an angle,
  • uphill and downhill
  • do a controlled stop
  • use the mirrors
  • give appropriate signals
  • show awareness and anticipation of other road users’ intentions
  • manage your progress and control your vehicle speed
  • deal with hazards
  • select a safe place to stop

There will also be 10 minutes of independent driving, designed to test your ability to drive safely while making independent decisions.

Off-road exercises include:

an ‘S’ shaped reverse into a bay
showing the uncoupling and recoupling procedure if you’re taking a test with a trailer

Again, similar to an ordinary driving test, you’ll be expected to commit 15 or fewer driving faults (with no serious faults) in order to pass. If you do fail the test, you can book another straight away, but you can’t take it for another three clear working days.

Part 4 test: practical demonstration

  • You’re tested on being able to:
  • load the vehicle following safety rules and to keep it secure
  • stop trafficking in illegal immigrants
  • assess emergency situations
  • reduce physical risks to yourself or others
  • do a walk-around vehicle safety check

Qualification

Once you’ve passed all four parts of the test you’ll be sent your Driver CPC card (sometimes known as a Driver Qualification Card or DQC). You’ll need to carry it with you while driving a lorry professionally (or face a £50 fixed penalty).

Keeping your qualification

You’ll be required to take 35 hours of periodic training every five years to stay qualified, renewing your bus or lorry licence every five years (and every year when you reach 65).

NB: If you’re taking an NVT course

If you’re taking an approved National Vocational Training (NVT) course you can drive professionally for up to 12 months without taking the Driver CPC part 2 and part 4 tests.