Companies are being urged to begin planning now to avoid being impacted by a backlog of licensing work, which Red Corporate Driver Training says will hit the industry in the next 12 months.
Red suggests that drivers risk being taken off the road with 2024 predicted to be a record year for Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) tests as a result of the cyclical nature of the qualification combined with clearing the testing backlog due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
According to analysis of DVSA figures of completed CPC hours by Red, 2023 and 2024 is set for a tidal wave of drivers needing to complete their allocation, with around 16 million hours of training in total needed.
Under Government rules, drivers of lorries (3.5 tonnes and above), buses and coaches must undertake 35 hours of training every five years in order to maintain their CPC. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £1,000 and being unlicensed to drive.
Red Corporate Driver Training CEO, Seb Goldin, said: “The problem with having to do such a huge amount of training in such a short space of time is that it takes drivers off the road for days at time – or even for weeks if they don’t complete it before the deadline, at a time when most businesses are desperate to get their employees behind the wheel.
“This puts huge pressure on fleets and also the training industry.”
Red believes the forthcoming backlog is due to the shortfall of training which took place over the Covid period - according to DVSA figures, only 2.4 million hours were logged in 2020-21 and 3.7 million in 2021-22.
In the first quarter of 2022, figures suggest a full year will end up at 4 million hours.
To put it in context, in the previous five years a total of more than 26 million hours were logged in training.
Assuming the same number of drivers need to do the CPC, it means that in the next two years more than 16 million hours will need to be logged – more than double in each year what is likely to be completed in 2022-23.
Only twice in the last decade has the industry manged to complete 8 million or more hours in a year; the last time in 2019-20 was equivalent to around 1.3 million driver sessions.
Red is urging companies to act now by spreading out the 35 hours of training across 2023 to ensure their drivers remain compliant and avoid unnecessary waits to receive their tests the following year.
“Driver CPC is essential to keep the wheel of British businesses moving, and historically there has always been a big rise in training numbers in the fifth year of a cycle,” said Goldin.
“But unless firms start planning now, those wheels may grind to a halt as a result of a predicted surge in test requirements throughout the next couple of years.”