In order to keep my professional driving qualification current I have to undergo regular classroom training. The rules of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) state that, for newly qualified drivers such as me, I have to do 35 hours of training within 5 years of gaining my initial CPC entitlement.
I took the first module a few days ago – a day-long course on driving hours and tachographs that left my head spinning by the end! Fortunately I didn’t have to go very far to do this, in fact I booked with SRTS in Exeter, just a stone’s throw from the VOSA Test Centre where I passed my test last year. There were 4 other guys taking the same module that day, making the session very easy to contribute and ask questions during the day. Usually, when the room is full with 25 participants, interaction is difficult.
The course doesn’t have a test element, although we did do 2 simple quizzes to test our knowledge. There being no pressure to pass or fail, I found it a much better environment in which to absorb the information. I succumb very easily to nerves in a test or exam situation!
The trainer knew his subject back to front but struggled on the day with a very sore throat and a gravelly voice that threatened to break up and disappear altogether. On the feedback form at the end I gave him 10 out of 10 for persistence in the face of adversity!
Accompanied by a VOSA PowerPoint presentation, the course dealt with weekly driving hours, break and rest periods, and the use of tachographs in vehicles. The rules, with one or two exceptions, are identical for both lorry and bus/coach drivers and in fact I was the only bus driver in the room. Also at the front of the room was a non-working example of an analogue tachograph and a fully working example of a digital tachograph. This was set into a box which allowed the trainer to simulate a vehicle in motion, which enabled him to physically demonstrate how to enter data into the machine, how to set the various modes and how to obtain print-outs.
Much of the morning session dealt with analogue tachgraphs and how to use the paper charts that fit into them. All the heritage buses I drive have these. The afternoon session covered the digital tachograph, so I stored that information up for later use! One important thing I learned was that VOSA would be interested in my weekday job as well as my weekend driving duties, even though my ‘day job’ doesn’t involve any driving. Apparently it comes under the heading of ‘Other Work’. This came to light as a result of the group being a small one. The trainer was able to take into account the various situations of the participants and several times used my part time heritage driving as an example to illustrate a point.
After the final quiz (I got full marks in both) we all received certificates and were told that the hours spent doing the course would be added to our licence details held on the VOSA database.
No bus driving for me next weekend, I’m off to a rally with my Minor 1000 to celebrate 100 years of Morris Motors. My next duty will take me into Bristol city centre with (fingers crossed) an ex-City of Exeter Guy Arab IV. Makes a nice change from a Lodekka!