Urgent warning for driving farm lorries

5th September 2014

This Wednesday (10th September) is the date on which ‘grandfather rights’ for lorry drivers expire unless you have completed 35 hours of periodic training in the last five years.

This is an incredibly complex area of European legislation that applies to professional lorry and bus drivers that unfortunately implicates farmers too. We have done our best to outline the rules here and advise anyone who currently drives a farm lorry to urgently check the more detailed information provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA, formerly VOSA) on its website –  www.gov.uk/driver-certificate-of-professional-competence-cpc.

EU RULING: To drive a lorry you must hold a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) – see below for exemptions.

GRANDFATHER RIGHTS: If you were driving a lorry with a vocation licence (shown as a letter C on the back of your pink driving licence) before 10th September 2009 you have ‘acquired rights’ (also known as grandfather rights) and automatically have a Driver CPC but only if you complete 35 hours of training every five years.

TRAINING: Professional training is counted in five-year blocks so training completed between 10/09/2009-10/09/2014 cannot be rolled over to 10/09/2014-10/09/2019; you start again from zero. To reach the 35 training hours required you need to complete five seven-hour approved sessions.

EXEMPTIONS: Driver CPC applies to anyone using a lorry for ‘commercial carriage of goods’ (livestock count as goods!) so taking sheep to a market or abattoir definitely requires the qualification. Driving to a show is incredibly ambiguous. The official line from DVSA is that ‘you do not need Driver CPC if the vehicle you drive is used for non-commercial carriage of goods for personal use’. While it can be argued that showing is not for commercial gain it is open to interpretation by DVSA inspectors pulling lorries over on the road. NSA has sought legal advice and been told that until someone takes the issue to court there is no ‘test case’ to use as a legal defence. The full list of exemptions is:-

The vehicle is being road tested after repair, maintenance or technical development
The vehicle is new or rebuilt and not been put into service yet
The vehicle is limited to a top speed of 28mph
The driver is using the vehicle for non-commercial carriage of goods for personal use
The driver is using the vehicle to carry material or equipment you use for your job – but driving the vehicle can’t be the main part of your job
The vehicle is used for driving lessons for anyone who wants to get a driving licence or a Driver CPC
The vehicle is used by the armed forces, civil defence, the fire service and forces responsible for maintaining public order used in states of emergency or for rescue missions
The vehicle is being driven to or from pre-booked appointments at official testing centres
The vehicle is driven within 50km of your base, is not carrying goods and driving a lorry is not your main job

FINES:  The fine for driving a lorry without Driver CPC is £1,000. The fine for driving a lorry without having your Driver CPC card to show to an inspector is £100.