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Brexit – the likely future

Brexit is going to affect everyone in the UK and at this stage with the ‘seismic fall-out’ on British politics it’s going to be some time before there are any clear indications of how the road transport training sector is going to change. Speculation is nothing more than that at the current time!

It’s reasonable to assume that there will be an on-going requirement for training in road transport, both for initial driver licence acquisition and on-going driver training. Whether the existing EU category ‘C’ and ‘D’ driving tests and initial driver CPC driving tests and on-going driver CPC periodic training will continue in their current form will be uncertain until the politics of who will negotiate Brexit and over what timescale is known.

Initial driver licence training currently has four modules, two of which (module 1 – theory tests and module 3 practical tests) are long established are unlikely to be changed by Brexit. The two modules associated with initial driver CPC (module 2 case studies and module 4 practical) were introduced in 2008 for PCV and 2009 for LGV and their continuance might depend on whether the new Brexit Government considers these necessary or one of the allegedly bureaucratic EU nonsenses that can be dispensed with.

Driver CPC Periodic Training has generally not been welcomed by the road transport industry, although ‘top end’ operators were already doing a fairly similar level of training before the 2013/14 deadline. The benefits of driver CPC periodic training are probably not yet established as it’s still a relatively new invention and difficult to quantify with factual evidence. Non-EU Member countries are not required to hold a driver CPC card to drive in the EU, so presumably neither will UK drivers in future after Brexit. Quite what happens to our EU driving licences is unclear, but probably the current system will continue, albeit without the EU symbol on the card!

There are also other ‘external’ bodies that require operators to carry out additional driver training for contractual reasons, such as TfL who require truck drivers to undertake cycle awareness training and bus drivers to undertake disability awareness training. National Express also has contractual training requirements for sub-contractors. There are also many requirements for truck drivers to hold special training qualification cards, such as an ‘EPIC’ card for working in quarries. There could still be a considerable requirement for driver CPC type training and some kind of ‘passport’ qualification card might well prove useful for both drivers and employers.

Basic road safety measures, such as drivers hours and tachographs are unlikely to change and the UK will have little choice but to adopt AETR drivers hours regulations in place of the current EU drivers hours rules. New trucks and coaches, which nearly all are built in the EU, will still be fitted with tachographs as standard. Any relaxation in drivers hours rules for ‘domestic’ driving seems unlikely on the grounds of road safety. There will still be requirement to train drivers in these rules from a legal obligation to both the Traffic Commissioners and Courts.

Initial driving licence acquisition tests will continue as now until after Brexit, although some minor changes such as putting module 4 tests out to ‘designated training providers’ may well be implemented. Drivers will still require Driver Qualification Cards (DQC’s)so Driver CPC periodic training will need to continue until at least after the final ‘Brexit’ date has passed and it seems highly unlikely that this will happen before the September 2018 deadline for some younger ‘acquired rights’ drivers or even the September 2019 for the majority of older ‘acquired rights’ drivers. There is likely to be another last minute rush to complete the next periodic training cycle, especially as changes to driver CPC is going to be a long way down the list of priorities of the regulations which will have to be changed by Brexit. There have been varying ‘guesstimates’ of how long this process might take – up to 10 years has been quoted!

Until we are told otherwise it should be ‘business as usual’ and operators should be ensuring that their drivers are receiving the recommended 7 hours/one day a year driver CPC periodic training. Newer driver’s DQC’s will continue to expire every 5 years from when they pass their initial driver CPC tests as part of their licence acquisition.

Undoubtedly there are going to be some big changes, but the ‘Donald Rumsfeld syndrome’ of the unknown of not knowing what and when is going to cause a great deal of uncertainty, which is not a good situation from either the drivers’, operators’ or training organisations’ viewpoint. There currently appears to be no political appetite to implement Brexit quickly. It will be interesting to see how this saga unfolds over the coming months and years.

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