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14 Q&As

Professional driver: all the facts you need to know about "a profession on the move"

Professional drivers are the most visible representatives of logistics service providers like the Nagel-Group. They make an important contribution to the success of the company on a daily basis. Here we provide answers to the 14 most important questions regarding the profession in Germany.

1. What exactly does the term "professional driver" mean?

Professional driver is a term used for drivers who are qualified to drive a particular vehicle. They are mainly employed as truck drivers or bus drivers. Currently, the logistics sector in Germany employs around 550,000 drivers.

2. In what areas does a professional driver operate?

Truck drivers transport goods, mainly for logistics service providers. They are also employed by postal and courier services, and companies that transport goods themselves.

3. What tasks does a professional driver perform?

The main task of a professional driver is to drive large vehicles. This includes having a good knowledge of vehicles and carrying out periodic inspections. To ensure safe driving, professional drivers have to inspect that the vehicle is fully operational and roadworthy before driving. Additionally, they have to carry out other tasks depending on their respective area of activity.

4. Who is affected by the new Professional Drivers' Qualification Law (BKrFQG)?

Professional drivers of trucks and buses are legally required to participate in advanced training measures every 5 years. Thus, all professional bus drivers who held a valid driving licence on 10 September 2008 and all professional truck drivers who held a valid driving licence on 10 September 2009 have to undertake a training in safety and efficiency every five years. New drivers who have received their driving licence after these dates have to take a test in order to obtain a qualification (initial qualification). This also applies to part-time drivers. The successful completion of an initial qualification and advanced training is marked with "code 95" on the driving licence.

5. What is the amount of time a professional driver is allowed to drive in a day?

A professional driver is not allowed to drive for more than eight hours in any working day. The working time can be extended to 10 hours This is possible only if the professional driver does not exceed a daily average of eight hours of working time over a period of six calendar months or 24 weeks as per the Working Hours Act (§ 3 ArbZG).

6. How long is the driving time and the rest period?

The driving time must not exceed 4.5 hours. Thereafter, the professional driver must take a break of at least 45 minutes. A daily rest period of 11 hours must be taken within a 24-hour period. According to the rules governing working hours for professional drivers of trucks, a professional driver must take a new daily rest period within 24 hours after the end of the previous daily rest period or weekly rest period.

7. Who does the driving time and rest period apply to?

The driving time and rest period applies to professional drivers of vehicles and trailers or semi-trailers with over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight in commercial goods and passenger transport. The driving time also applies to bus drivers.

8. How is the driving time and rest period monitored?

According to an EU directive, an EC recording device, namely a digital tachograph, was introduced on 1 May 2006. The device stores important data, such as working time, on a chip.

9. What type of driving licence does a professional driver need?

There are 16 driving licence categories in Germany since 2013. 4 of these allow you to drive trucks: namely CE, C, C1, and C1E. The driving licence category CE basically has no restriction as far as the maximum permissible laden mass is concerned.

10. What does CE on a driving licence stand for?

EU-wide, there are four categories of driving licence for trucks. E denotes the EU-wide code for towing trailers. Holders of driving licence category CE can drive trucks with over 7.5 tonnes maximum permissible laden mass and trailers and semi-trailers with over 750kg gross vehicle weight.

11. How do you become a professional driver?

Anyone who wishes to become a professional driver can either complete a dual system of apprenticeship which lasts three years; in which case, the apprentices have to pass the final examination conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK). You can also take a theoretical and a practical test conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) to obtain an "initial qualification" or an "accelerated initial qualification". Both qualifications allow you to drive trucks commercially.

12. What are the requirements to become a professional driver?

No formal education is needed to become a truck driver.

13. What does a professional driver learn during the apprenticeship?

Apprentices spend part of their working time at a company and the rest at a vocational college. Apprentices attend a vocational college for a block period of time or on specific weekdays. At the company, they learn vehicle maintenance and repairs. At the vocational college, they learn the basic principles of economics and general knowledge topics. A particularly important part is the driving licence which is acquired during the course of the apprenticeship.

14. What opportunities does a professional driver have in terms of advanced training and career progression?

Advanced training courses on adaptation can help a professional driver keep their professional skills and knowledge up to date and adapt them to new developments. This applies, for instance, to sectors relating to goods and passenger transport, vehicle technology, load securing or transport of dangerous goods. For instance, professional drivers have the opportunity to progress to management positions by undergoing an examination for "Meister für Kraftverkehr" (foreman, road transport activities) or "Fachwirt für Güterverkehr und Logistik" (certified expert for freight transport and logistics).

Information has been collected from Bundesamt für Güterverkehr (Federal Office for Goods Transport), TÜV Nord, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt und Berufsforschung (Institute for Employment Research in Germany), job centre, IHK (Chamber of Commerce and Industry ), and the websites bussgeldkatalog.org and bussgeld-info.de.

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