Thursday, June 20, 2013

Government Road Transport Rulings Broadly Welcomed by Freight and Haulage Interests

Open Consultation on Definition of Driver for CPC's Whilst DSA and VOSA Merge
Shipping News Feature

UK – Road haulage and freight transport interests welcomed the news this week that their views are being taken into consideration with regard to changes being made to the requirements for certain classes of drivers to obtain Certificates of Professional Competence (CPC’s) whilst the austerity measures being pushed through by government are about to affect the regulatory bodies which are responsible for the road transport sector.

Both the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA) have welcomed the Driving Standards Agency’s consultation on the possibility of exempting technicians taking vehicles to test from the scope of the Driver CPC, a subject we outlined in our story last month asking for a definition of what constitutes a professional driver?

The case, which was put to the authorities at that time, pointed out that the 30,000 or so technicians and mechanics that are sometimes called upon to drive HGV’s for testing would surely be beyond the scope covered by the definition. The points made also indicated that exemptions were allowable in other EU states for similar work patterns and practices.

On the 10th June the government launched an open consultation asking for opinions to potential changes in the regulations allowing an occasional driver to use the vehicle with the owner’s permission as long as four key points were met, namely: driving was not his/her main activity; the vehicle was within 50 kilometres of the drivers base; no goods or passengers were carried and there was no use for ‘Hire and Reward’.

FTA’s Chief Executive, Theo de Pencier, said: “We’re really pleased that government has listened to our case and has acted so quickly to try to provide a solution. We will be offering all the support we can to ensure that this issue can be resolved fully in advance of the deadline for DCPC.”

RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning, added:

“In our view, the intention of the EU Legislation has always been that it applies to drivers who are directly and substantially involved in the delivery of goods and that was reinforced by specific exemptions for some categories of drivers. Applying the legislation where it was clearly not intended, would make no sense and we are delighted that the Minister has accepted our arguments.”

The consultation runs until 28th June 2013 and you can have your say online HERE.

The big news for anyone with a vested interest in road transport of any type is today’s announcement by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Stephen Hammond, that the services currently provided by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) are to merge to form a single organisation. The move is hardly a surprise given the recent cuts, this time last year there were bitter complaints when changes affecting thirty nine DVLA offices were announced by then Roads Minister Mike Penning.

The announcement today met with a totally different reaction from the industry after assurances from the minister that the decision will allow for the delivery of the same high quality testing and standards services to motorists and businesses, but with greater efficiency, with Geoff Dunning saying:

“This move makes obvious sense to an industry that is surrounded by regulations from number of regulatory bodies. However, we are concerned that this is another case of the devil being in the detail and we would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the negotiations as to how the new system will actually work. We have always had a good relationship with both the DSA and VOSA and are confident that this will continue with the new, single, regulatory body.”