Lorry fleets facing training bottleneck

Another year end approaches and most businesses take a breath to look forward to see what challenges they will be facing in the new year and beyond.

The European Directive 2003/59/EC introduced in September 2008 is something that wholesalers need to be very aware of over the coming couple of years. The directive calls for all LGV (larger goods vehicle) and PCV (passenger carrying vehicle) licence holders to begin professional driver development with drivers expected to undertake 35 hours of approved driver training every five years. Typically this would be seven hours a year, but as most drivers have not even started training, and in the case of PCV drivers there is only two years left to cram in a full five days training, the availability of courses is likely to become a problem.

What wholesalers don’t seem to be aware of is that every time a driver completes their training the DVLA is advised and if a driver has not completed the 35 hours training when the law comes into effect in 2013 their licence will be invalid until the training has been completed.

With an estimated pool of more than 800,000 LGV and PCV drivers in the UK and almost a third of those working in the food and drink industry you can see that the training industry needs to make available more than four million training days over the next couple of years to cope with demand. Those numbers are going to be difficult to manage from the standpoint of trainer availability, venue availability and general logistics.

Add the complexity of the food industry needing to continue its day-to-day job of delivering food and goods to stores across the country, while drivers are off the road attending the training sessions, and you can see that a bottleneck is starting to develop. At its worst this could mean many drivers will be unable to complete the training in time and therefore unable to work.

Wholesalers can easily become confused about whether their drivers are included, but put simply if they drive a 3.5 tonne vehicle they need to be trained. Wholesalers can also become confused by which course or more to the point which selection of courses offer the best value overall. Clearly complying with the legislation is important but as the wholesaler is likely to be responsible for organising and paying for the training for their drivers then they need to be assured their time and money is not wasted.

AA DriveTech has clearly thought carefully about the needs of the food and drink industry and as well as offering a choice of seven full day and six half day courses covering a variety of subjects such as speed workshops, eco driving and customer service it has also developed, in partnership with the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF), four additional half day courses for the food logistics industry which include food hygiene, a cold chain workshop and a food quality workshop.

What wholesalers need to remember is that the best way to handle this issue is to get drivers up to two days training in 2012 and 2013 and then plan a day of training each year thereafter to ensure full compliance with the legislation.

If you want to find out more about the Driver CPC training that is available from AA DriveTech then contact Norman Brennan at norman.brennan@aadrivetech.com

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