Broker urges HGV fleets to manage DQC renewals

Fleet transport specialist insurance broker McCarron Coates is urging heavy goods vehicle (HGV) operators to plan in their approach to CPC renewals before 10 September.

Last year, it was noted that nearly half a million (487,505) Driver Qualification Cards would expire by the five-year renewal date of 10 September. This was for driver qualification cards (DQC) issued to HGV drivers in 2019. If the drivers concerned have not completed their 35 hours of CPC training over the past five years, they will not be able to renew their DQC.

With the pandemic reducing opportunities to take courses, the number of drivers who have not undergone any CPC refresher training in this period is probably higher than in the past.

To drive without a valid DQC could see a driver fined £1000. The operator who allows a driver to take to the road without a valid DQC can also face serious consequences.

McCarron Coates said HGV operators must avoid getting caught up in a last-minute rush to train drivers. It stressed they need to seize control of the situation now so they are not left facing a month in which their drivers are all off the road, trying to cram in their CPC hours.

There is also the possibility that courses could all be booked up then, leaving drivers with no CPC refresher options. That could lengthen downtime, if drivers cannot legally drive. Following the completion of any training, time also needs to be factored in for the physical issuing of the card by the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

McCarron Coates also warned this problem could easily go under the radar. It is for the driver to keep on top of their driver training, logging their CPC training hours online. If drivers are not transparent, HGV bosses could be completely unaware a driver cannot renew their card.

With many drivers also disillusioned with life on the road, some could have no intention of continuing in the profession and renewing their DQC. Given the general driver shortage, this could create a huge recruitment problem if there is an exit of drivers in the late summer.

McCarron Coates director, Ian McCarron, said: “Operators need to take a pro-active approach now, building an accurate picture of their drivers’ situations. They should gain temporary access to drivers’ CPC record to check how many required CPC hours have been completed. From there, they should get drivers onto courses and phase in what could be anything up to 35 hours of training well before the deadline.”

Fleet managers will need to plan schedules around driver availability, as training takes place. Many courses take place in five-day blocks. Fleets will need to consider how to cover this.

McCarron warned some insurers will not cover agency drivers. A discussion with a fleet’s insurer needs to be had, if the way of handling driver absence will impact on the policy’s validity.

The Leeds-based fleet insurance broking specialist also warned operators need to check that drivers have not have duplicated a CPC training module. This will not give them their DQC.

“Checking on a driver’s CPC qualifications and history typically happens at recruitment but is something that can then slip from view,” said McCarron. “Operators should stay on top of this but also better plan CPC training throughout the five years, rather than letting it be a last-minute action that simply ticks a box.

“CPC training, if better phased across the five years, can better contribute to road safety and driver awareness of driving laws introduced on a continuous basis. Take, for instance, the January 2022 Highway Code changes. How many fleets are 100 percent sure that drivers appreciate the changes the new Code introduced?”

The broker believes required CPC training helps drivers become better risks but also helps them embrace training in general. Whilst the CPC covers core areas, there are many non-compulsory driver training programmes that can greatly improve driving skills. These can be viewed by the driver as an investment in their career, creating a feeling of being valued.

“Training makes drivers safer, reduces their accident risk and therefore reduces insurance claims frequency and premiums,” said McCarron. “It often leads to other benefits, such as fuel savings, less vehicle wear and tear, better tyre management and an enhanced brand reputation. Fewer accidents mean fewer sick notes from drivers and less vehicle downtime. Staying accident-free also means not letting clients down by failure to deliver on time. It can also keep employers out of liability cases and legal wrangles.”

Rather than viewing this year’s DQC situation as an issue, McCarron Coates is urging HGV operators to see it as an opportunity to focus on driver training at a holistic level. If they do, it believes their risk management could be enhanced, enabling them to reduce costs across the operation and potentially also boost their driver recruitment strategies.

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