A driver training specialist with bases in Shropshire and Wrexham has become one of the first organisations in the UK to gain approval to test lorry and bus drivers under new legislation which has seen the driving test split into two.

The law means the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) Part 3 Driving Ability Test will now be split into category 3a for off-road exercises, and 3b for on-road driving.

Up until now a DVSA examiner has had to carry out testing for all these aspects but they are now only required to carry out 3b testing, while approved training assessors will be able to carry out the 3a test. The aim is to free-up more examiner availability to address the country’s HGV driver shortage.

Dulson Training, with centres in Shrewsbury, Telford and Wrexham, is one of the few companies in the UK to meet the rigorous DVSA criteria involving facilities, infrastructure and assessor capability and has been approved to carry out its own 3a testing.

Steve Dulson of Dulson Training, said: “There is a lot of confusion about the change to the driving test with some people thinking they no longer need to take part 3a, but they do - the law divides the test into module 3a and 3b - 3a consists of off-road manoeuvres including reversing and coupling and uncoupling of a trailer, while 3b covers on-road driving.

“It means training providers like ourselves have had to gain approval to be able to test 3a ourselves with our own qualified assessors, so we can now train, prepare and test a diver for the module 3a part of the test.

“We are one of the first organisations in the UK to get approval to carry out the 3a testing and from what we hear there are a lot of centres around the country who don’t have or will be able to get this approval because they don’t have the necessary facilities or people in place to meet the criteria.

“This could actually work against what the Government is trying to do in freeing up examiner availability and test slots with many schools simply not having everything they need to meet the high standards required for approval.

“We have that infrastructure in place to carry out both parts of the test - 3b with the examiner coming in to test at our centre and test 3a, having met the criteria on facilities and getting our assessors assessed to make sure they can test off-road abilities of drivers to the standard they should be delivered at.

“This is a major change to the way drivers get their licence and we have put in a lot of hard work and commitment to attain the level of an extremely successful, professional, highly respected training provider - to the point where we obtained almost automatic approval for 3a testing, helped because we were already a recognised DVSA site.

“It means individuals can still come to us for the extensive levels of training covering both modules of the test and the 3a testing. It also means other training centres can get us to carry out the 3a part of the test for them if they are unable to do it themselves. It’s all part of the service we provide in helping drivers and companies meet their commitments when it comes to training and testing.”

Dulson Training provides all types of training, including HGV, PCV, towing, driver CPC, forklift, first aid, and ADR courses.