UKIP's manifesto proposal to scrap lorry driver safety training has been criticised by cycling advocates and HGV operators as ignoring the safety of vulnerable road users.
The Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), currently required of all professional coach, bus and lorry drivers within the EU, is an "expensive second-tier requirement … causing job losses" according to UKIP's manifesto.
However, HGV operators and cycle campaigners say the scheme, which requires 35 hours' training every five years, including courses on driving safely around cyclists, is key to improving safety on our roads, where lorries are 5% of vehicles but involved in half of cyclist deaths.
UKIP's transport spokeswoman, Jill Seymour MEP, says in the party's manifesto: "The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) is an expensive second-tier requirement, which is causing job losses, because of the added administration and expense to hauliers. We will scrap the DCPC for professionally licensed drivers."
Jacqueline O’Donovan, managing director of waste disposal company O'Donovan, refutes these claims.
She says: "Driver CPC can only be a good thing as it upskills drivers with the knowledge and skills to do their job safely and efficiently, I’d hope, in a bid to get the role of the HGV driver recognised for the profession that it is."
"Doing away with Driver CPC will mean that drivers and the businesses that employ them will simply not be evolving with our country’s streets and the other road users.
"We cannot ignore that our roads are becoming more congested, plus the increasing numbers of vulnerable road users - the safety and well-being of all involved is paramount."
She added though the training has time and cost implications, forward-thinking businesses need to see training as an essential investment, rather than a cost which, she said, is why O'Donovan recently invested in its own driver CPC scheme.
At present, up to date CPC is essential for Driver Qualification Cards, which drivers of most large vehicles have to carry by law.
Head of training and development at Cycle Training UK (CTUK), David Dansky, delivers cycle-specific CPC training to lorry drivers. The training has classroom and on-bike elements, as well as teaching anything from the effects of nutrition, dehydration and tiredness on driver performance, to possible distractions posed by the multiple mirrors and cameras lorries use. It teaches drivers to recognise experienced cyclists from less experienced ones and why a rider may not always use a cycle lane, as well as looking at crash scenarios and presumed liability.
Dansky said: "[CPC] includes first aid courses, how to reverse your lorry, using fuel efficiently, and all of them are about minimising risk. If UKIP want to not reduce risk then get rid of CPC."
CTC's Sam Jones said: "Given the danger lorries in particular present to cyclists, CPC training should offer a cycle-awareness course, or practical cycle training. There should also be no exemptions for any drivers of HGVs from CPC training (e.g. for those driving empty vehicles from site to site etc)."
He said the 35 hours' training every five years is "not so much ‘refresher’ training, but an opportunity to add to their knowledge".
Hackney Council currently offers free CPC training to all drivers that pass through the borough. Its information leaflet points out the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to “ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work”.
It adds: "Employers also have a responsibility to ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving, riding and cycling activities."