24th April 2009


 Issue No.  2009/09




We have been reporting on driving and related matters over the last 12-18 months and again focus on new matters that employers need to be aware of. We also pull together some (perhaps little known, given the driving we often see on the roads) information on speed limits and trailers. The details might surprise you.
A new qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers - the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) is coming. In future, just holding a vocational driving licence will not be sufficient for someone who wishes to drive these vehicles for a living.
Any lorry of 3.5 tons and upwards and minibuses with 9 seats or more are covered by Driver CPC.
The existing ‘Transport Manager’s CPC’ also known as the ‘Operator’s CPC’ is a separate qualification and anyone holding one, who still drives professionally as part of their job, will also need to hold a Driver CPC.
The Driving Standards Agency is taking the lead in implementing EU Directive 2003/59 with domestic legislation which requires all professional bus, coach and lorry drivers to hold a Driver CPC in addition to their vocational driving licence. The legislation is effective as follows:
  • 10th September 2008 for bus and coach drivers
  • 10th September 2009 for lorry drivers
In order to maintain their Driver CPC, all category C and D licence holders (including C, C1, C1E and D, D1, DE, D1E) will be required to undertake 35 hours Periodic Training every 5 years.
Driver CPC also introduces a new Initial Qualification for drivers entering the industry after these September dates which they must complete in order to drive professionally.
Whilst commenting on the driver training requirements it is worth having a wider look at some possibly little appreciated rules on road use.
It is very important for drivers to bear in mind that vans (and all goods vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes) are subject to lower national speed limits than cars on both single and dual carriageway roads.
Whilst a car may travel at up to 60 mph on single carriageways and 70 mph on dual carriageways vans are only allowed to travel up to 50 mph on single carriageway roads and 60 mph on dual carriageway roads. The motorway speed limit for vans is the same as cars - 70 mph.
[Remember that the speed limits quoted here are national limits, a lower speed limit will apply in built up areas and on many local roads.  Where a lower speed limit is signed you must comply with those lower limits].
The main reason for these lower speed limits is that goods vehicles are designed to be able to carry heavier loads and when laden they will tend to take longer to slow down than a car travelling at the same speed.
There is one (small) group of vans which have the same speed limits as cars. These are vans that are both derived from a car chassis and also have a maximum laden weight of no more than 2 tonnes.  This means that the weight of the vehicle and the payload it is designed to be able to carry when added together do not exceed 2 tonnes.  The van design must be a derivative of a car body, it is not sufficient that it looks similar to a particular car. 
These are likely to be similar to a Ford Fiesta van ,Vauxhall Corsa or Renault Clio van in having maximum payloads of around 500kgs so that when combined with the weight of the vehicle unladen (normally around 1.4 tonnes) the maximum laden weight of the whole vehicle will not exceed 2 tonnes.
What this means is that vans such as the Ford Transit and (and of course the larger panel vans) will not meet the definition of car derived vans.  These vehicles will be subject to speed limits of 50mph on single carriageways and 60 mph on dual carriageways.

Car and trailer practical driving test
If you passed your car driving test on or after 1 January 1997 and you now want to tow a caravan or certain trailers, you may have to take a specific practical test.

Car licences obtained before 1 January 1997
If you passed a car test before 1 January 1997 you keep your existing entitlement to tow trailers until your licence expires. This means you're generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes maximum authorised mass (MAM). You also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kgs MAM. 
Car licences obtained on or after 1 January 1997
If you passed a car test on or after 1 January 1997 you're limited to vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes maximum authorised mass towing a trailer up to 750kgs, or a vehicle and trailer combination up to 3.5 tonnes MAM providing the MAM of the trailer doesn't exceed the unladen mass of the towing vehicle. You will need to pass an additional driving test in driving license category B+E if you wish to tow a caravan or trailer combination which exceeds these weight limits.
The car and trailer practical driving test
The car and trailer test (B+E) is based on the lorry driving test and lasts for approximately one hour. Please note that B+E tests are conducted at vocational (bus and lorry) driving test centres.
The towing test (B+E) includes vehicle safety questions, an off-road reverse manoeuvre, a controlled stop, uncoupling and coupling of the trailer and driving on the road.
You won't be expected to carry out the following exercises: emergency stop on the public road, reversing round a corner, reverse parking, turning in the road.




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