New lorry drivers will need to pass a new DSA driving test following the launch of a new qualification by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) launches on the 10th September 2009 and will need to be obtained by new lorry drivers in addition to them holding the relevant driving licence for a lorry.

The exams include a new theory test that check and enhance drivers’ understanding. There’s also a new practical test which requires trainee lorry drivers to demonstrate their knowledge of vehicle safety and security.

Rosemary Thew, The Chief Executive of the Driving Standards Agency said: “The new Driver CPC qualification has been developed to raise and maintain the standards of lorry, bus and coach drivers”.

Thew continued, “Lorry driving is a profession with a high level of responsibility. We are confident that the new qualification will help to reduce the human and financial costs of road accidents in the UK”.

In a further move, all lorry drivers, irrespective of experience, will need to complete 35 hours of ‘periodic training’ every five years in order to maintain driving lorries professionally.

Those drivers who hold a full licence to drive a lorry before the 10 September 2009 will not need to take the qualification examinations, though they will need to do the ‘periodic training’.

Readers can find further infomation on the Business Link CPC page.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has provided some advice to pupils who are finding it difficult phoning through to the DSA to book their driving tests.

In order to get your phone call answered by the DSA, they are advising pupils and ADI’s to use the fast track service and callback assist.

The Registrar of Approved Driving Instructors for the DSA, Charles Morton gave the following tips:

1. Call 0300 200 1122 and dial one of these options:

- all theory tests, dial 11.

- practical car test enquiry and booking (including ADIs), dial 25.

2. If we don’t answer your call after 60 seconds, you’ll be offered callback assist. This will save your place in the queue so you can hang up and get on with your day.

3. You’ll just need to confirm the number you want us to call back on. It can be a landline or mobile, and it doesn’t have to be the number you’re calling from at the time.

4. Speak your name and hang up when you’re told to. We’ll do the rest.

As soon as you reach the front of the queue we’ll call you back. Don’t worry if you’re on the phone when we call as we’ll try three times.

5. If your number’s been engaged and you haven’t heard back from us within 30 minutes from the moment you hung up, you’ll need to go back to step one.

Steve Tattersall, a spokesperson for Driving School Lessons said, “This is really useful advice as we’ve had plenty of feedback from pupils who have found it difficult to book their driving test online or over the phone with the DSA over the last few weeks”.

Tattersall continued, “Though the situation has now improved, we’d be interested in hearing from pupils who have phoned the DSA and used the DSA’s fast track service and call back assist to book their driving test. Pupils can leave their feedback on this news site”.

The AA has found that many driving instructors are now re-routing their driving lessons due to the 1.5 million potholes on the UK’s roads.

Crumbling road surfaces and holes are making work extremely difficult for the UK’s driving instructors with tyre blow outs often forcing instructors to grab the wheel from pupils.

AA president, Edmund King, said: “The fabric of our local roads is a major cause for concern with surfaces crumbling and drivers at risk of damage to their vehicles and even themselves. Ultimately we all pay more through patching and mending, and then paying out compensation rather than fixing the underlying poor condition of many of our roads”.

King continued, “All drivers should take care – an innocuous looking puddle may actually be a deep pothole. By training new drivers to anticipate and deal with these obstacles we will make our roads safer, preventing accidents and damage to you and your car”.

The AA driving school are teaching special techniques so learner drivers can deal with the increasing number of potholes.

The UK wide Bill Plant driving school has switched its fleet of driving tuition cars from Vauxhall Corsas to Hyundai i20′s.

The company has received 60 i20 cars so far with a further 500 to be delivered by Hyundai over the course of the year.

Roy Danby, a spokesperson for the Bill Plant driving school said: “The i20 is an excellent, easy-to-drive car for our pupils and they give great feedback on it. It’s a pleasure to teach in and the peace of mind of the safety features reassures both pupil and teacher”.

Hyundai Sales Director, Guy Pigounakis, said: ‘We’re delighted that Bill Plant Driving School pupils will be taking their lessons and tests in the new Hyundai i20. After passing I’m sure many will not want to part company with this excellent supermini”.

Vauxhall’s loss of the Bill Plant contract follows BSM’s recent decision to switch from Vauxhall Corsas to Fiat 500′s, a contract worth 14,000 cars over the next three years to Fiat.

An innovative new Manchester driving lesson website called YourProgressReport.co.uk has been launched by a local driving instructor to help pupils and their parents track the development of their driving skills and how much progress they have made.

Password accessible for each pupil, the site charts the pupils progress across a range of essential driving skills needed to pass a driving test. It also uses a traffic light colour-coded scheme to appraise the pupils’ competency.

Speaking about the site, the owner, John Brocklehurst said: ‘One of the questions I’m asked most frequently by my pupils, and they start asking it from their first lesson, is when will they be ready to take their driving test. That got me thinking about what I could do to help them visualise their progress in a modern and accessible way”.

John continued: ‘From that starting point, the website developed and it has been extremely well received by my pupils since. They can see how quickly their skills are developing and it also allows their parents, or whoever else might be paying for the lessons, to see how much progress they have made”.

The ex-crane driver for BAE Systems established his own driving school four years ago and has invested £10,000 of his own money into the web venture which is attracting interest from other driving schools.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has announced the launch of a new information pack for newly-qualified driving instructors.

The glovebox-sized pack contains cards, leaflets and booklets containing useful information about being a driving instructor.

The move by the DSA to produce the pack follows feedback obtained from experienced ADI’s on what they would have wanted when they commenced their driving instructor careers.

The Registrar of Approved Driving Instructors for the DSA, Charles Morton said: “We have listened to feedback from ADIs, which indicated that when they first qualified, they would have found a pack like this useful, as it contains information about how to make the most of their new career and help their pupils”.

Morton continued: “The pack is designed to be glovebox-sized so that ADIs can have it readily to hand. They will also be able to add any ‘pull-out-and-keep’ brochures we publish in Despatch magazine, and there is room for them to insert their own useful information”.

The DSA will start sending the new pack to newly-qualified ADI’s from Monday, while ADI’s who have registered within the last six months will be sent a pack on request.

Those ADI’s requiring a pack can email adireg@dsa.gsi.gov.uk or write to the DSA at DSA, The Axis Building, 112 Upper Parliament Street, Nottingham, NG1 6LP.

The boss of BSM, Britain’s biggest driving school, has avoided a lengthy driving ban despite having 17 points on his licence.

According to thesun.co.uk, Abu-Haris Shafi was in court after his Volvo car was caught on camera breaking a 50mph speed limit.

In court Shafi refused to reveal who was in the drivers seat of the Volvo and was given 6 points on his licence to go with the 11 already there.

With 12 points usually meaning an automatic driving ban of at least 6 months, Shafi avoided this with a £750 fine.

This followed his solicitor’s success in persuading Bournemouth magistrates that a driving ban would risk his job and prevent him taking his Mum to the doctors.

A BSM insider said: “It is incredibly embarrassing teaching learners to obey rules if our driving force is a serial offender”.

Steve Picton from the Driving Instructors Association, said: “I am amazed he’s maintained his position as company head”.

BSM officials refused to comment.