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When you see someone behind the wheel of an HGV, it’s reassuring to know that they are competent at it. Driving an HGV, or any vehicle over 3.5 tons (including minibuses with 9+ seats), requires more than just passing a driving test as with cars.

For commercial drivers, they need to possess a Certificate of Professional Competence, or CPC, to be able to drive on our roads. If you’re new to the world of HGV driving or need a refresher on what’s required, we’ve put together a guide on what the Driver CPC is, how to prepare for it and what you need to know. Enjoy!

What Is Driver CPC?

The Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) was first introduced by the UK government in 2008 to bring it in line with EU regulations. Initially, it was only for bus and coach drivers, but a year later, included lorry drivers too. Whilst there are some exceptions, the fact is that if you drive a bus, coach, or lorry as the main part of your job, then you will need a CPC.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but those exceptions include drivers who transport passengers or goods for their personal use, drivers going to (or from) appointments at the testing centre or carrying out rescue missions!

Once you have the certificate, it must be kept up to date with periodic training every 5 years. The training must total 35 hours and includes subjects like loading vehicles safely, improving fuel economy, and applying the standards of professional driving.

driver CPC training logo

4 Modules of Driver CPC

The certificate itself comes in four ‘modules’. Parts 1 and 2 are a theory test, which you can take as soon as you have your provisional licence. The second part is hazard perception. The pass marks for these two parts are 85 and 67 out of 100 respectively.

You don’t have to do them together, but they must be passed within 2 years of each other to progress onto part 3. You can take them on the same day if you wish, although they must be booked separately.

The third part of the CPC is a test of your driving ability. Providing you’ve passed the previous 2 parts, the driving aspect lasts about 90 minutes. It will include questions on vehicle safety, practical road driving (i.e. using the controls, moving away at an angle, controlled stops, etc.), and off-road exercises.

The latter includes coupling / re-coupling procedures if you use a trailer, and demonstrating an ’S’ reverse into a parking bay. Providing you accumulated 15 or fewer driving faults and no serious or dangerous ones, you’ve passed the penultimate section.

The final part is another practical demonstration. You will be observed carrying out a number of tasks, including loading safely, assessing emergency situations, and vehicle safety checks.

The test itself is made up of 5 topics from the regulatory CPC syllabus with 20 points for each. You need at least 15 out of 20 in each topic area with an overall score of at least 80 out of 100.

A happy and smiling HGV driver standing by his red truck

Prepare For Your Driver CPC

The whole thing might sound a little daunting, but there are things you can do to prepare for the tests. On the assumption that you do need a CPC and don’t fall under the list of exemptions, you want to make sure you give yourself the best chance of passing.

Given the financial cost and time required to complete the whole thing, the CPC is not something to enter into lightly.

Whilst it can happen to all drivers, new drivers often forget to look far enough ahead. Car drivers might be used to looking just one or two cars in front of them when you’re driving a giant metal box that takes longer to slow down, you need to look further ahead than that.

When driving, look around 5 cars ahead and use that as a gauge for slowing down. Don’t rely on the brake lights on vehicles directly ahead of you as your signal to hit the brakes. It’ll be too late.

When taking the test, make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you’re relaxed and feeling good, then you’ll be less nervous when tested. Dress suitably for the occasion but be comfortable. It’s not a job interview, so leave the shirt and tie at home.

Also, when setting off for the test centre, make sure you have the necessary paperwork with you. You’ll obviously need your driving licence, so make sure you know where it is. Verify that you have it. Don’t just assume it’s where you think it is, without it, you won’t be able to take the test.

A Red HGV Truck image for Driver CPC post

Take A Practice Drive Before the Test

Finally, and whilst this isn’t a requirement if you’re at the stage where you’re taking the practical elements of the CPC, it’s a great idea to take a practice drive beforehand.

This will get you into the right frame of mind for the test, hopefully, eliminate any silly errors, and will make you more aware. Don’t go for hours and hours or you’ll start to tire, but a 30-40-minute drive will get you ready for what’s coming next.

We all want the roads to be safer and the CPC is a huge part of that. We want HGV drivers especially to understand the responsibilities they have whilst out on the road. Ensuring your CPC is valid and up to date goes a long way to accomplishing that.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog post, if you are interested to find out more about our latest HGV Jobs, please call us on 01604 761206 and our friendly team is here to help with your enquiry.