Getting Back Behind The Wheel
Whether your circumstances have forced it, or you just fancied a change of scenery – there are a number of reasons why you might choose to get back behind the wheel for a living after taking a break.
This article will guide you through what you need, as it’s possible things will have changed since your last drive!
The most common change for people returning to the industry is the introduction of the requirement for (most) professional drivers to hold a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) – commonly referred to as a CPC card.
How you obtain one of these will depend on a number of factors.
When did you pass your car, bus or lorry test?
If you passed your car test before 1997 or your HGV before Sep 9, 2009 you’ll have what’s called “acquired rights” for C1, C and C+E licence categories. For busses, if you passed your bus test before Sep 9, 2008, the same will apply – you’ll have acquired rights, but for D1, D and D+E categories.
It’s important to remember that having acquired rights for one set of categories does not give you acquired rights for the other set.
Having acquired rights means you are eligible to complete 35 hours of periodic training to obtain your CPC card. This option can be beneficial for a number of reasons:
- There’s no test – you just need to attend the training to get your card
- If you’ve got C and D category vehicles on your licence, you’ll be able to obtain CPC for both by attending the same course, so long as you choose the right provider
- It’s a great opportunity to get up to speed with other changes such as using a digital tachograph, changes to speed limits and more…
Alternatively, you may have the option of completing the Initial CPC qualification. This is made up of two parts, both involving a pass/fail test.
- Module 2: Similar to the HGV theory test, this is a multiple-choice, computer based test on case studies. You’ll get given some scenarios, then asked questions about that scenario.
- Module 4: This is a show-and-tell style test where you’ll need to demonstrate to the examiner, for example, how you would secure your load or check for illegal packages that had been stowed on your vehicle when crossing a border.
- You’ll need to book this through a training provider that offers licence acquisition training, unless you have access to a vehicle that meets the test requirements.
Read more to check if this option is available to you.
Have you previously had a CPC card?
If you’ve had a CPC card before – you’ll have no choice but to complete the 35 hours of periodic training to obtain your CPC card, as the initial CPC can only be used for your first card.
Passed after 1997 (car) and 2008/9 (bus/lorry)?
If you passed your car test after 1997, your bus/lorry test after 9 Sep 2008/9 and you’ve not had a CPC before, you’re the opposite. You’ll have no choice but to complete the Initial CPC for your first card. This will be valid for 5 years and will require 35 hours of periodic training every five years to maintain it.
Just to reiterate, for this to apply, you’d need to answer “true” to all three points:
- Car test AFTER 1997
- Bus/lorry test AFTER Sep 9, 2008 (bus) 2009 (lorry)
- NOT previously held a Driver CPC
It is important to know that Initial CPC will ONLY apply to the category type you are completing the test with. I.e. Initial CPC for bus will NOT give you CPC for lorry, and vice versa.
Digital Tachograph Card
Something else you’ll need for the majority of driving jobs these days is a digital tachograph card.
Gone are the days of wax tacho discs. Every vehicle above 3.5 tonne or with more than 8 passenger seats manufactured since 2006 must have a digital tachograph unit fitted, so unless the vehicle you’re driving is at least 14 years old, it’ll have one.
The good news is these are fairly easy to obtain. Just complete a D777/B form and send it off with a cheque and you should have it back within a few days.
Remember: to apply for a digital tachograph card, you’ll need a photocard driving licence, so this will require updating too if you’re still on the old paper-style licence.
Group 2 Medical?
When you get to the grand old age of 45, you’ll need a driver’s medical examination to maintain your Group 2 (lorry and/or bus) licence(s). This is required every five years up to age 65 – after then it’s every year.
So long as the medical doesn’t throw up any issues, it’s just a case of sending the relevant forms off to update your entitlement. There isn’t a charge from DVLA for this, but you will need to pay for the medical.
Booking a medical with your GP can be tricky and expensive! Companies such as Drivers Medicals charge as little as £58, whereas we’ve heard of people paying up to three times that with their GP!
Somewhere to work!
You may have already identified what you want to do once you’ve got your licence back. If you’re not sure, or you’re just curious what else is out there, then check out what we can offer!
- Part Time or Full Time
- PAYE contracts of employment
- Free uniform
- Life & personal accident insurance
- Medical insurance plan