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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Driver CPC? Nobody Needs to Tell Me How to Drive!

When the Driver's Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) was introduced in 2009 it was greeted with cynicism and disdain my many professional drivers. Personally I don't blame them. If all of a sudden the government decided that I needed periodic training in order to continue working as a copy writer, and I'd have to fund this training myself, I'd be furious. One of the main arguments in favour of the driver CPC is that some drivers tend to develop bad habits after gaining their license, and being in control of a truck weighing 40 tonnes or a coach carrying 50 passengers then some of these bad habits really should be ironed out.

For example, how many drivers do you see indicating at the very last minute before turning into a side road? How many times do you see drivers at a roundabout who don't seem to know who has the right of way? How many times have you flicked through the Highway code since you acquired your license? Are you aware of the 29 new rules which were introduced when the highway code was revised in 2007? The way the roads are being used is changing and all drivers, both private and professional need to be aware and alter their standard driving practices accordingly. His is especially important in central London where the congestion charge has led to huge increases in the numbers of cyclists on the roads at peak times.

Maybe CPC training courses would be more widely accepted if they were required for all drivers and not just those who drive large vehicles for a living, as it's not just professional drivers who either pick up bad driving habits, or are not aware of the rights of other road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. For example, the current highway Code advises drivers to stay behind a cyclist if they are planning to turn left, rather than overtaking the cyclist and turning into their path. This is the single biggest cause of cyclist fatalities on Britain's roads and one of the reasons we see more cyclists 'taking the lane', also known as 'riding in the middle of the road' in built up areas. Many drivers, especially those who passed their driving test many years ago assume that cyclists belong in the gutter, but this simply is not the case.

It's issues such as this which makes driver CPC courses necessary. The roads are evolving, becoming more congested and there is always going to be a situation which one has yet to come across. For example, have you ever realised that your vehicle has started aquaplaning in torrential rain? Do you know what to do in such an event? Do you even know what aquaplaning is? If the answer is 'no' on all accounts then it's issues such as this which driver CPC training courses aim to address. I agree that CPC courses are a bone of contention for many drivers; being an added expense and 35 hours out of their life every 5 years. However the reason's behind driver CPC courses are sound and have all the right intentions. If only they were for all drivers and free of charge, then they'd probably be welcomed more widely.

Carl Liver

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