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Government Consultation on Entitlement to Drive Vehicles up to 7.5 Tonnes

During the recent Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns by the UK Government, a number of emergency measures were put in place in order to address certain issues such as the shortage of HGV drivers.  Having been able to make changes (due in most part to the UK no longer being in the European Union and the Government therefore being able to easily change the legislation regarding driver testing and licensing), the Government is now looking to explore whether there are any further opportunities to make changes to the legislation within the transport regulatory regime that would lead to economic benefits in the industry and “support economic growth by strengthening the supply chain”.

One of the areas that the Government has identified is the rules around C1 provision.  Under current rules, those with a standard car licence obtained after 1st January 1997 may only drive vehicles weighting up to 3.5 tonnes, unless they have taken additional tests to qualify for the C1 entitlement – which then allows them to drive a vehicle combination up to 8.25 tonnes (the vehicle must be between 3.5 and 7.5 tones plus a trailer with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of up to 750kg).

In the UK, up until 1st January 1997 drivers who passed their car driving test immediately gained entitlement to drive a light lorry or van (known as a C1 entitlement) without the need for any further training or testing.  After 1st January 1997, due to the EU Second Driving Licence Directive, a separate test has been required to allow car drivers to have this entitlement, with those drivers who took their test prior to 1st January 1997 being given “grandfather rights” which allowed them to drive vehicle combinations (as specified above) up to 8.25 tonnes.  Under the proposed review, this need for an additional test would be removed for all holders of a standard car licence (B entitlement).

The government’s website is asking for views to be submitted by members of the public and industry professionals that will help to answer important questions regarding the “global driver shortage” and to assist research into how post-Brexit freedoms are to be used to remove “red-tape” and create opportunities for people and businesses across the country, without, as far as the transport industry is concerned, lessening any road safety standards already in place.

Currently in order to hold a C1 entitlement you must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Be 18 years or over,
  • Hold a category B entitlement,
  • Undergo a medical assessment for initial application and then obtain signed medical reports in order to renew the entitlement once the age of 45 years is obtained, and then every 5 years up to the age of 65, where upon the medical report must be obtained annually.
  • Those with current grandfather rights to a C1 entitlement, upon the age of 70 must submit a medical report that is subject to higher health standards than for a standard car licence in order to continue to hold the right.
  • Those who took a C1 test have to make a self-declaration about their health every 5 years up to the age of 45.
  • A Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) may also be required to drive commercial goods vehicles on a C1 entitlement.

If the rules where to revert to pre-1997 rules, then the government proposal is that drivers must have/be:

  • Minimum age of 17,
  • Must have passed theory and practical driving tests in a car
  • Practical driving test cannot include motorways,
  • For professional drivers, the DCPC and the medical declarations are likely to remain in place.

These changes would remove a significant amount of administration for the haulage industry and the possibly the medical profession alike with all the subsequent savings in time and money that lifting that burden would produce and the requirement for professional drivers, who after all are the people doing the most driving hours on the UK’s roads, to hold additional certifications still ensures that road safety is high on the legislative agenda, so this proposed change may well be a positive move by the Government.

In order to have your say on this matter, you can click here to complete the online form.  The consultation period will run until 28th October 2022.

In the meantime, if you have any queries about the current C1 regime or any other matter that might be affecting your transport operation then do not hesitate to get in touch.  Click here to send an email, or call 01279 818280 to speak with one of our lawyers.  We are here to help.