For anyone looking to train as an HGV driver as a career change or return, it is worth understanding grandfather rights. Otherwise known as acquired rights, these allowances to requirements are based on when you passed your driving, or vocational HGV test. It’s important to remember that even acquired rights must be maintained when you drive professionally. So we look at exactly what grandfather rights exist within HGV driving and how this all works practically within a driving career.
While there have been several minor changes to driving licence categories, requirements and processes over the years, there are two key dates for HGV drivers. The first of these is January 1997 and the second September 2009. We’ll look at what changes happened at these points and how they affect driving entitlements in the current industry.
From the start of 1997, the UK adopted the EU unified licence. What were previously classifications HGV 1, 2 and 3 became category C and C+E. Soon after, C1 was added as a sub category. Since category C covered both the prior 2 and 3 classes, current licence holders were automatically given category C+E entitlement. This maintained the ability for drivers who had habitually been driving trailer vehicles to continue without penalty. There remains however a restriction note limiting trailer capacity to drawbar trailers. Drivers who had passed their standard car driving test before 1997 would automatically have category C1 and C1+E included in their entitlement. There is a restriction note on C1+E entitlement in these circumstances which limits the combined vehicle and trailer weight to 8250kg. Clearly these entitlements do not entitle car drivers to drive professionally.
More specific to professional HGV driver training were changes that occurred in September 2009. These additional regulations saw the introduction of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). This qualification is required for all new professional drivers of vehicles in category C1 and above. If you passed your vocational test before September 2009, you would not need to complete the initial CPC course. This is because it is accepted that your driving experience is such that the initial CPC training subjects are within your experience and knowledge. However, as the CPC is an ongoing requirement, all drivers regardless of acquired rights must comply with the same regular training guidelines. At present this is 35 hours of training over a 5 year period.
It can be an easy misconception that grandfather rights exempt you from CPC requirements. However this is not strictly true. The only part of the driver CPC that you do not need to undertake is the initial training and qualification. Rolling periodic training is required for all professional drivers to retain their driver qualification card (DQC).
Your driver qualification card, or DQC, is the proof that you have completed the required periodic training that it takes to maintain your CPC. For those with grandfather rights, you will have been given a DQC on completion of the first block of 35 hours of training. From this point, the qualification to drive professionally must be maintained in the same way. All drivers should carry their DQC at all times when working. You may incur a £50 fixed penalty for driving professionally without your card. If a card gets lost or damaged, you must apply to replace it immediately which will cost £25. You can, however, carry on driving professionally while you wait for the replacement to arrive.
It’s clear that the requirement for 35 hours of driver training over 5 years must be maintained by all professional drivers. However, what does this training cover and how does it take place? Training can take place in a classroom environment, although post pandemic there are online classroom environments and seminars available. Modules should be 7 hours, which can be completed over 2 consecutive days. Topics covered include digital and analogue tachographs, working time regulations, safe loading & restraints, breakdowns, first aid and driver health and wellbeing.
If you fail to complete 35 hours of ongoing training over a 5 year period, you must not drive professionally until the training has been completed. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you drive an HGV professionally after your driver qualification card expires and you have not completed 35 hours of training. Once you have completed the training, your new DQC will be valid from the time that the training is complete.
Although there will come a point when current grandfather rights stop being relevant, there will always be some form of acquired rights to bear in mind. This is because regulations are always being amended, updated and evolved. There’s a very practical reason that grandfather rights exist, and will continue to exist. This is to ensure that current professional drivers remain on the road. This precedent ensures that whatever changes may occur within HGV driving regulations, consistency can be maintained for the current workforce.
As of 2023, driving licence regulations are under government consultation once again. Various proposals have been made which include amends to the driver CPC and shorter periodic testing. There is also a potential drivers licence change that will entitle all drivers to operate vehicles up to 7,500kg, or C1 category. It’s important to remember that commercial drivers of C1 category vehicles and above will still be required to complete their driver CPC, or equivalent within updated regulations.
Making sure that you have, and maintain, the correct training qualifications is clearly a vital part of professional HGV driving. When you work with us, we can help you with the process from the start so that you keep up to date with what you need to be a great HGV driver. Contact us to find out how you can return to or begin your HGV driving career.
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