The C1 driving licence allows people to drive vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. Drivers who pass the 7.5 tonne C1 test become entitled to drive C1 rigid vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes with a trailer up to 750kg.
The C1 licence is not mandatory for paramedics but certainly is very useful for any student looking to become a Paramedic and work in an NHS or private ambulance service. A few universities stipulate the student must either hold a provisional or a full C1 licence prior to commencing the first year of studies. (Check individual University entry criteria).
Drivers who passed their category B (car licence) test before 1st January 1997 will have benefitted from acquired rights (also referred to as grandfathering rights). This means that these groups of drivers already have the C1 entitlement on their driving licence, and, will not need to take any additional tests.
How do I get a C1 provisional licence
People who took their driving test after January 1997 will not have been granted the C1 licence, and, will therefore have to take a separate theory and practical test to get the C1 licence.
In order to attend a C1 driving course, you must:
- be at least 18 years of age and have a manual car (Cat B) licence. If you have an EU licence you will need to complete a Form D9 and obtain a UK licence with C1 provisional entitlement before attending your course.
- be able to read a new style number plate from a distance of 20 metres (the use of glasses is allowed).
Assuming you already have a category B driving licence, your first step is to attend and pass an LGV medical test. You should arrange for your local GP to conduct this medical, and they will confirm what fee is applicable. You will need to take a D4 medical form with you, (which can be downloaded here) to your medical, and the Doctor will complete the form accordingly. Your local GP is a good place to start but many private practices will offer a drivers medical for a much smaller fee, shop around for the best price.
Once you have passed your LGV medical examination, you must then make an application to the DVLA for your category C1 provisional licence. In order to make this application, you will need to complete a D2 Application Form, which can be obtained from your local post office, or can be ordered online from the DVLA. There is NO FEE to pay and 10-15 working days later you should receive your new licence.
The final step you must complete before attending a C1 training course is to sit and pass your LGV theory test, which can be booked online at the DVSA's website, or by calling the DVSA booking line on 0300 200 1122.
The assessment requires you to pass both the LGV Multiple Choice (Module 1a) and LGV Hazard Perception (Module 1b) theory tests. You will have to answer 100 multiple-choice questions and get 85 correct answers, and 19 video clips for your hazard perception tests scoring 67 out of 100 maximum.
The C1 Driving Test
The C1 driving test should be taken in the same vehicle in which you do your training (check when booking). The test starts off with the examiner asking you some vehicle safety questions (show me, tell me questions) and is usually followed by the reversing exercise. You then proceed to spend the next 50 minutes - 1 hour driving on the public road, on the test routes you would have practiced during your training. During this time on the road the LGV examiner will assess your ability to interact with other road users in exactly the same format as your category B
driving test. There are no manoeuvres whilst out on the road. Once you have successfully passed your LGV Category C1 practical test, you will then obtain Category C1 on your driving licence, which will entitle you to drive any rigid vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes. Driving without the correct licence category can lead to up to 9 penalty points due to DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENCE entitlement and NO INSURANCE.
Do I need to have it to become a paramedic?
Technically no, however it is very difficult to succeed in a career as a paramedic without being able to drive. The HCPC who define the requirements for the Standards of Education and Training (SETs) and the Standards of
Proficiency – paramedics (SOPs), do NOT insist a student has any driving ability to join or stay on or to register on an approved programme. However, NHS Ambulance services and many private ambulance services make it a con-dition of employment.
The fact is, some programmes do make it a compulsory element of the selection process, which is allowed as long as they declare that to you when you’re choosing a course and making the decision based on your qualifications, skills and attributes.
Do you recommend a C1 driver provider?
The College does not specifically recommend one programme of C1 driving instruction over another, however it is advised to ask fellow student applicants past experience. The College does recommend that you check that the driving lessons and test can be held in the same vehicle and that it is a 4+ tonne panel van (ambulance style). If you are inexperienced in larger vehicles, do buy the extra time behind the wheel, on the training. We also recommend you check the DVLA website for approved C1 providers.
Should I do the C1 Full course / training before or after university?
This is an individual choice based on available funds and time to complete the course. Some students are only 18 years old a week or two before the cut-off-date at their chosen university, so gaining the provisional is sufficient in the time available. Others prefer to get it sorted prior to university so it is one less thing to be concerned about, whilst others prefer to check out the paramedic programme before committing a large sum of money to C1 and then find they don’t like the course.
Will they test my eye-sight?
This is a part of the medical and will not be checked at the practical driving test. You must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 meters (the use of prescription glasses is allowed).
What if I have points on my licence?
This can be an issue for new drivers who really don’t want to get to six points in the first two years and have to re-take the test, or for some universities who insist on only three points or even a clear licence. It is not a particularly challenging market to get a job as a paramedic at the time of writing, but a prospective student could be asked to re-apply when the points on the licence are cleared. The best advice is to drive correctly and avoid points, it also adds to your insurance cost.