Commenting on the issue, James Firth, FTA’s head of road freight and enforcement policy, said: ‘The logistics industry is not going to grind to a halt today as some have suggested – the figures indicate that most drivers will have got it done. But the deadline highlights a more fundamental problem of driver supply in the future. The cost of getting your HGV licence, the cost to companies of insuring young drivers, the lack of facilities for drivers on the road network and a generally negative image of the profession are all barriers to young people recognising the logistics industry for what it really is: a challenging and rewarding sector, which uses cutting edge technology to solve problems on a daily basis to keep the economic heartbeat of the UK strong and uninterrupted.’
But FTA is also voicing its concerns over the readiness of some agency drivers, which industry usually calls upon to handle the Christmas peak, and furthermore the driver supply in the future. Normally fleet managers would look to their employment agencies to supply temporary drivers to meet their peak demand periods, but surveys of agency driver availability suggest that there may not be the numbers of qualified drivers to meet the peak demand.
‘The next few weeks will be a critical period in the road freight sector for government, enforcement agencies and the wider economy. A combination of the fast-recovering economy, the Driver CPC deadline, a shortage of qualified agency drivers and a series of administrative changes to driver licensing arrangements are creating the "perfect storm" for fleet manager and piling pressure on scheduling plans for the Christmas peak period,’ Firth added.
The FTA has also expressed frustration that administrative fixes and clarifications – that it is has longed called for – have only been issued by DVSA in the past week which have created confusion in the last critical days prior to the DCPC deadline.
Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) regulations came into force for new HGV drivers in 2009 when vocational drivers were required to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years. Existing vocational drivers at that time were granted until today to undergo the same training. Driving without the qualification carries a maximum fine of £1,000 – for both the driver and operator licence holders.