Keeping your vehicles and drivers legal

19 Jul

IF YOU run a small fleet of 5 or more vehicles you have a legal obligation to ensure you assess the road risk of your drivers and that your company cars comply with safety and documentation requirements.

Many small business owners understand these responsibilities and ensure that their company cars and drivers operate under the rules of Corporate Governance and meet HSE requirements.

It’s crucial that you can demonstrate that the vehicle is safe and the driver is trained.

After all, the regulations are fairly simple for you to implement and stay legally compliant.

For those in any doubt, or even for those seeking re-assurance, here are 10 Top Tips of what you need to do, split up into the requirements for drivers and vehicles.

Remember – “Your drivers and vehicles may be miles away from base but the responsibility for them and their driving stays with you at all times”.

Vehicles

1. Keep full records and vehicle documentation where they are both safe and accessible. Appoint someone sensible to be responsible for them. For each vehicle you should have the V5 (log book), insurance documentation, MOT (if applicable), service records and maintenance reports.

2. Keep a dedicated ‘Daily Log’ for each vehicle, where regular checks can be recorded. These must show that every vehicle is safe, and roadworthy. This becomes the vehicle’s ‘audit trail’.  These daily checks are done by the vehicle’s driver and/or the business car manager, but whoever does it, keep contemporaneous notes on what was found and what action was taken to correct any faults or damage.

3. Don’t neglect those company cars that are used only occasionally, and don’t neglect employees’ own cars that are used on company business – the so-called ‘grey fleet’. If the vehicle is being used on company business, you are responsible for ensuring that it is legal and roadworthy. It even applies to contractors’ vehicles.

4. Resolve problems straight away, and if you find something dangerous or even just potentially dangerous the vehicle must not be used.

5. Your responsibilities cover any driver working on your company business. So whether the driver is a full or part-time employee, an agency driver or someone working for a sub-contractor, you must ensure that they are fit to drive.

6. You must have a ‘Driving at Work’ policy for your business drivers. Keep it up to date as legal obligations and requirements change.  Give a copy to every driver; they should sign to confirm they’ve received it, and again to confirm they’ve read and understood it, and will comply with its requirements.  Your Driving at Work policy should cover such issues as mobile phone use, smoking, eating, driving, drug use, speeding and other driving offences. It should describe what the driver should do in the event of an accident. Consider the risks your drivers may encounter if, for example, you expect them to make long journeys or deliveries, and cover these points too.

7. Always do a full driver’s license check, not just a simple visual check. The information needs to come from the DVLA to ensure that you achieve compliance and are 100% sure the driver is legal to drive.  License checking is a vital part of the risk management process. It should be repeated at least annually, and more frequently for drivers with points on their licenses. I always recommend that companies check drivers’ licenses before they are employed – and that includes agency and part-time workers.

8. You have a legal responsibility to assess each and every driver for road risk. This can be done online but it’s imperative to remember that if any driver shows up as ‘high risk‘, you must follow up the assessment with training.   Again, much of this can be done online unless the driver’s risk assessment demands in car training. Online training is cost effective, particularly if large groups of drivers are involved, it ensures that you can demonstrate that you have met your Duty of Care, and it creates an audit trail for your records.

9. If your risk assessment finds a driver who is at high risk, failure to act can mean that you may be held culpable if the driver is subsequently found to be at fault in an accident.   Since you knew there was a risk, it was your responsibility to act and failure to do so puts you in a worse position than if you’d been ignorant of the risk.   So make sure that you satisfy yourself that you have access to remedial training before you begin your risk assessments.

10. I also recommend that you ask that your drivers take annual health and eyesight checks which can catch problems early and help to ensure drivers are physically fit to drive and comply with the minimum eyesight requirement.

These points may seem exhaustive but it’s easy to implement a plan of action and a driving at work policy.

Comply and stay legal or, chance your arm and hope that your drivers aren’t involved in an accident where the consequences leave you and the company exposed to prosecution through criminal or civil proceedings.

For more information on any of these points please contact us on 01572 723 443.

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