As anyone who’s spent any amount of time behind the wheel will know, driving can be very hazardous. The risks are constant, and however conscientious you are when driving, there will inevitably be times when you simply cannot anticipate or account for the actions of other road users. It stands to reason, therefore, that firms which employ people to drive as part of their work need to take very careful precautions to ensure fleet compliance. The potential implications of failing to do so are severe – as are the punishments to which offending employers can be subjected.
However, adequate, regular and robust licence checking processes are can be used by fleet operators to defend against potential issues. This FAQ will address a host of key issues surrounding licencing and driver safety checks
Q: How often should I check my employee’s driving licence?
A: Many businesses conduct licence checks for each driver at least once a year. However, it is worth remembering that drivers can rack up penalty points quickly and in a short space of time. It’s therefore a good idea to check employees’ driving licences regularly, to flag up any individuals who are ineligible to drive or who have picked up penalty points without informing their employer, they are uncovered sooner. Employers may, for example, check those drivers who already have points on their licence more frequently than those who don’t. Drivers working in particularly high-risk roles should also be the subject of regular (quarterly) licence checks.
Q: How do I go about checking an employee’s driving licence?
A: Licence checks can be carried out online free of charge here. In order to do so, you’ll need the last eight digits of the driver’s licence number and a check code provided by them (which will need to be used within 21 days). This is a cumbersome method of doing so for an entire workforce, however, and so should only be used in individual cases. You also have the option of applying to use Access Driver Data when checking large numbers of licences at once. This will, however, come with considerable costs attached – set-up costs alone can run to as much as £15,000 – and you will also need to obtain accreditation from DVLA. Teletrac Navman’s FleetCheck fleet management software can greatly simplify and streamline compliance issues, integrating over 250 data streams.
Q: How honest are drivers when it comes to their record and documentation?
A: Research suggests that very many drivers would not likely provide employers with information about where they have incurred penalty points, unless prompted to do so. of A survey carried out by RAC Insurance and cited here found that “only 13% of respondents would inform their employer of any points they incurred, with a worrying 25% already having points that they had failed to disclose”. This simply underlines the importance for employers to make sure that they conduct regular checks of drivers’ credentials – because, unfortunately, they can’t necessarily rely on drivers to own up.
Q: How serious are the implications for businesses who fail to ensure that these employees are eligible to drive?
A: Firms which employ ineligible drivers could find themselves on the receiving end of very severe penalties, so it is vital that every reasonable precaution is taken in this regard. In February 2016, new guidelines were introduced which toughened penalties for businesses convicted of corporate manslaughter. Under these rules, larger companies could face multi-million pound fines for the most serious offences. A robust checking process, by contrast, can constitute an effective part of a legal defence. Furthermore, firms which fail to ensure employees are properly eligible to work as drivers are likely to find insurers refuse to pay out in the event of a claim involving such individuals.
Q: How important are licence checks to ensuring effective compliance?
A: Very important. Regular, robust licence checks are needed to ensure ongoing compliance. Where fleet operators fail to ensure that every driver’s credentials are checked on a frequent basis, they run the risk of falling behind on compliance. One-off checks can also be useful – whether conducted randomly or to check on drivers with known issues – for ensuring rigorous compliance.
Q: How can I ensure compliance with data protection regulations?
A: Driver record data is classed as personal data and is therefore covered by the Data Protection Act. In order to ensure they remain compliant with the regulations stipulated by the Act, employers and any licence checking agency must obtain driver consent before conducting a licence check. Any employer who accesses such information without having secured the consent of the individual driver concerned beforehand is liable to be fined by DVLA. Employers should also record the fact that consent has been obtained so that they have evidence if they later come to need it.