Unfortunately, you cannot simply start driving a larger vehicle, even with a full UK driving licence, additional training is required. To legally drive a vehicle of 7.5 tonnes, you will need to hold a C1 licence and successfully pass your end-of-course exam.
Drivers opt to embark in advanced driver training for many different reasons, most of which are career-related, particularly when it comes to C1 courses. If you are leaning towards a delivery driver position, it is more than likely you will need a C1 licence, similarly to when hoping to become a paramedic. Although it is not an essential requirement to complete ambulance driver training to become an emergency response paramedic, it will significantly improve your chances of winning the position over other candidates.
An advanced driver training course can be expensive, which means that it is important to take into consideration how an additional category on your licence will benefit you. For those interested in 7.5-tonne or ambulance driver training, we have devised a guide on how to get your C1 licence and the many advantages of each.
A Guide On How to Get Your C1 Licence
First and foremost, it is imperative to understand exactly what a C1 licence is. Similarly to many other additional driving licence categories, the C1 was created to allow drivers to get behind the wheel of larger vehicles with a greater weight. On completion of a current C1 training course, drivers are allowed to drive vehicles that weigh no more than 7.5 tonnes.
Over the years, the training requirements and laws regarding additional categories have changed, which means that depending on the age of your licence, you may be exempt from having to take training. If you took driving lessons and passed your driving test before the 1st January 1997, you may notice that your licence already includes the C1 category. If this is the case, you will be able to notice that the C1 section on the back of your licence would have been filled in and includes the number 107.
However, if you passed your test after the 1st January 1997, your licence does not cover you for additional categories, and you will need to complete full C1 training. Once you have completed your course and passed your exam, your licence will be sent away to be updated; just as you did when you passed your driving test and sent away your provisional licence for your full UK driving licence.
It is important to note that both types of C1 licences only cover you to drive a vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes in weight, you are prevented from driving or towing anything greater. If you do need to drive a vehicle that weighs more than 7.5 tonnes, then you will need to take C1+E training, which covers you for up to 12 tonnes.
C1 Course Requirements
In order to begin a C1 training course, you will need to be over the age of 18 and hold a category B driving licence. A category B licence is more commonly known as the normal UK full driving licence that covers you for just cars.
Before you can start any form of training, you will need to apply and successfully pass an HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) medical test; this is a legal requirement. It is up to you who carries out the medical test; it can be your local GP or a private doctor. Your local GP is often the easiest option as they know you personally, you will feel comfortable discussing issues with them, and they will be nearby, so you won’t have to travel far to the appointment. However, they are likely to charge you extra for this service, and there may be a delay in starting your course due to extended waiting times for an appointment. On the other hand, there are private doctors who specialise in DVLA medical tests. They will charge you a fee, often less than a GP and they will be significantly more flexible with appointment times. Many prefer to venture further to visit a private doctor as they will have more experience carrying out the HGV medical test meaning that you increase the chances of your form being filled out accurately, therefore speeding up the process.
Regardless of whether you book in with your GP or a private doctor, what the Driver’s Medical will involve remains the same. You will first discuss with the doctor your medical history and whether you have any conditions that may possibly interfere with your driving. If you fail to state known medical conditions in your form, you are breaking the law and will face the consequences. Next, there will be a physical exam in which factors such as your eyesight will be tested. As a whole, for both sections, your test shouldn’t last any longer than around half an hour. You can download your medical examination report form on the GOV.UK website, this will include all information on how to submit your form.
Once you have passed your medical test and have been approved by the DVLA, you will need to apply for a provisional C1 licence. This is done using a D2 application form and includes all of the same information that you would have had to fill out when applying for your original provisional licence.
C1 Training Course
There are many different options when it comes to the length of your training course and often depends on the level of your current experience along with how confident you are as a driver.
If you have past experience driving or towing a larger vehicle, then you may only require one day of training with your test at the end. One-day courses are less about teaching you how to drive the vehicle, but more about preparing you for your test and going through skills such as manoeuvring.
For those who would like full training with additional time to prepare or go over trickier areas, you may want to consider paying a little extra and opting for a two or three-day course. Here you will have the opportunity to practice driving, manoeuvring and reversing a larger vehicle. You will have more leeway in regards to spending time going over particular areas of struggle to build confidence. The majority of the time, C1 training courses will be taught on a one-to-one basis with the instructor; however, three-day courses can accommodate two pupils at a time. This is ideal if you are an employer hoping to put two team members through training together rather than individually.
At Pure Driving, we offer both ambulance driver training and 7.5-tonne training courses, both of which are tailored to the pupil. During ambulance driver training, not only will your instructor teach you how to manoeuvre a larger vehicle, but also how to remain safe in emergencies and handle driving at high speed, dealing with trickier situations along with way. A 7.5-training course is incredibly similar, however, focuses more on the ability to drive on different road types and in different conditions.
End Of Course C1 Exam
Although the process of gaining your C1 licence is considerably different to the journey you would have made in the past for your normal driving licence, the test itself is relatively the same.
The test will begin with your examiner asking you a series of “show me, tell me questions” about your vehicle. This will be something that your instructor will go over with you prior to your exam; however, it is always recommended to have one last once-over just before your test begins. You will then continue on to an hour-long drive, in which your examiner will assess your skills against the same criteria that you would have done so in your initial driving test.
The only time that there will be a significant difference between your advanced driving exam and your initial driving test is if you opt for a C1+E course over just the generic C1 course. For those taking a C1+E course, the final step of your exam will be proving to the examiner that you can uncouple and re-couple a trailer following a set of important safety procedures.
Benefits Of Taking A C1 Course
As mentioned previously, taking an advanced driving course significantly widens your job opportunities; this is particularly beneficial when opting for a C1 course. Adding a second category to your licence can not only help you to progress further in your current role, but also begin a whole new career path altogether. Ambulance driver training is not a requirement that is set in stone when hoping to become a paramedic or A&E worker, but as the role is incredibly competitive, it will help you to stand out from the crowd. Especially in organisations such as the NHS, the budget is tight, which means that if a hospital can take you on and you can jump straight into the job without requiring training, you will be seen as the most desirable candidate.
You will also notice an immediate boost in confidence after taking a C1 course, and day-to-day driving will become more enjoyable. If you are able to tackle driving a large, heavy vehicle with ease, then going back to your regular car will be a breeze making you an overall calmer, more relaxed driver. Along becoming a more comfortable driver, advanced training will improve safety, enhance speed control and increase observation skills.
Taking a second exam will mean that you’ll most likely need to refer back to The Highway Code and refresh your knowledge of various laws and regulations. This will ensure that you are up-to-date with all of the latest driving offences and their consequences. Unless your main aim of learning to drive initially was so you could immediately advance to an additional category; it is likely that you would have passed many years ago. As years go past, as a driver, you will pick up small bad habits and forget tips your instructor taught you. Taking the second set of lessons will help you to get back into the routine of carrying out all safety procedures with care and detail, along with throwing away bad habits.
Book Your C1 Training Course Today!
We hope that we have been able to give you a detailed, insightful guide into the ins and outs of taking a C1 training course. Getting your licence is relatively straight forward, however, does take a little initial patience when completing all paperwork and gaining approval from the DVLA. Once approved, you could be passed in as little as one week!
For more information on booking a C1 course or to ask any questions in regards to advanced driver training, feel free to contact Pure Driving!