Author: Alistair Painter

Company Vehicles and Nominated Additional Drivers.

It is common practice to check the driving licences for vocational and company car drivers in order to ensure compliance with duty of care requirements. Grey Fleet drivers are also beginning to be assessed in the same way. But there is another category of driver that sometimes gets overlooked. This means that for some businesses and organisations there is a hidden risk that is not being addressed.

Many company vehicles are provided to employees where personal use is permitted. For 2016/17 there were 940,000 drivers paying BIK tax. If taking a nominal 12% of that figure it means that there are close to 113,000 drivers that should be validated for an entitlement to drive. This implies that all of the licence, age and driving experience requirements considered for an employee should also be applied to a nominated non-employee before approval to drive is given. But does this happen?

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Diabetes, Cataracts, Obstructed Sleep Apnoea and Fatigue.

Medical conditions have been reviewed in the last year in the light of an entitlement to drive privately and vocationally. Each condition brings with it the necessity to understand how each one impacts upon the reactiveness of a driver.

Diabetes UK (via the DVLA), have for some time (since 2011) been trying to change a European Union directive that when introduced, caused many drivers to lose their driving licence. The Association of Optometrists (AOP) have been advising the DVLA in consideration for new guidelines concerning drivers with only mild bilateral cataracts. The OSA (Obstructed Sleep Apnoea) Partnership Group, working with healthcare professionals and with the DVLA, have been instrumental in the introduction of new guidelines for drivers suffering from OSA. Regarding self-inflicted fatigue, the Freight Transport Association, have welcomed new DVSA powers that now enable the enforcement authorities to take serious action upon vocational drivers that repeatedly ignore the drivers’ hours rules within the Working Time Directive.

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The Importance of Renewing Expired Mandates.

Drivers that previously gave consent for driving licence checking prior to the 25th of August 2018, are now required to renew their approval under the DVLA’s new GDPR regulations. Failure to do so prevents their employers from doing ongoing driving licence, CPC and Tacho Card checks.

Previously drivers gave consent for licence checking by filling in, signing and dating the D796 mandate form. This was required under the Data Protection Act of 1998. The mandate was valid for three years from the signature date. However, due to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation on the 25th of May 2018 all such mandates expired on the 25th of August 2018 under the three month grace period set by the DVLA. So why is it of such importance to renew expired mandates?

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Twelve Months – Three Notable Changes.

Within the last twelve months, there have been three notable changes for learner drivers and motorway users. The driving test has been updated to include additional practical requirements. Motorways can now be accessed by learner drivers and additional motorway misuse penalties have been introduced.

The changes to the driving test have been introduced in order to increase the experience and help prepare novice drivers for the everyday driving conditions of the modern day roads. In particular, and as stated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the changes will help to reduce the number of casualties and injuries of young novice drivers where they are seven times more at risk than those aged over 25.

Allowing learner drivers onto the motorways, when they are close to their test is also seen as necessary. Especially since the introduction of Smart motorway traffic management methods using variable speed limits and enabling the use of the hard shoulder as a running lane. It is vital that all drivers understand how to use a Smart motorway and follow the rules. Unfortunately, the new rules are either not understood or ignored by some drivers.

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Transparent Detail – Driving Licence, DQC and Driver Cards

In 2017, the DVLA made Driver Qualification Card and Tachograph Driver Card information available to Licence Link’s online Driving Licence Checking service. Passing this on as a new additional free of charge service has been keenly adopted by Licence Link clients.

The comments below from existing clients just shows how valuable this service has been for driving compliancy and reduced administration:

 The introduction of Driver CPC & Digital Tachograph Card Details to Licence link, the on line checking service has allowed me to have a safe and efficient means of ensuring that we are operating fully compliant at all times. This service has removed a number of administrative duties which has allowed more time for other tasks to be carried out.

We want Licence Link to continue with our licence checking as this system is perfect for our peace of mind on compliance. Licence Link provides real time checking of compliance which includes driver CPC and Digital Tachograph cards.

CPC checking helps us to see the expiry of the card and monitor that going forward. No more asking everyone to have their card copied and admin needing to update a spread sheet and keep it updated.

These experiences are reflective of many of the businesses and organisations using Licence Link and involved with ensuring that their vocation drivers are fully entitled to drive for work related activities.

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Dedicated Versus Outsourced Services.

Outsourcing aspects of a business’s regular tasks are perceived to be a way of reducing cost, time and administration. On the surface, it seems to offer several advantages over in-house activities. But there can be aspects of risk associated with the concept. Where an outsourcing package bundles in inclusive Driving Licence Checking, how dedicated will that indirect service be?

Contracting an external business to supply previously in-sourced services is a recognised business practice. Taking shape during the 1990s this business strategy offered companies the opportunity to streamline and re-focus existing resources on the core business purpose. Releasing departments from administrative duties is seen to be an effective way of cost-cutting, reducing overhead costs including equipment, personnel, services and software. But over time disadvantages can be experienced where previously dedicated services can become somewhat diluted in the process.

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Electronic Declaration meets the DVLA Deadline

Licence Link announces their fully GDPR compliant Electronic Driver Declaration feature. With the DVLA deadline of the 25th of August 2018 for all drivers to declare approval for licence checking, regardless of previous consent, it could not come at a better time.

Fleet and HR Managers are obligated to ensure that their licence checking processes continue to be legal during the DVLA’s permissible transitional three month grace period and beyond. Migrating from the previous D796 Driving entitlement consent mandate to the new D906 Fair Processing Declaration has to be complete by the 25th of August 2018. Conscious of the pressure this puts on employers, Licence Link introduces the option to remove the necessity of having to send out mandates for completion by a driver.

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The Impact of Increased Speeding Fines.

From April 2017 speeding fines increased. The new rules established three Sentencing range bands A, B and C for speeds above specific speed limits. With Band C being the severest, with a disqualification from 7 to 56 days or 6 Points and a fine range of between 125% to 175% of the offender’s weekly income. Looking at endorsement data from 2016 and 2017 was there a significant detectable change?

The Sentencing Council’s published Speeding (Revised 2017) guidelines set out the steps for determining the offence seriousness. It includes a Fine Calculator allowing for input of Income, Band Fine Range, a stated Stating point income percentage and allowing for a Guilty plea allowance. The amount of fine is adjustable by the court attended or the enforcing police officer also allowing for mitigating circumstances, including previous convictions, the location of the offence and weather conditions, adding to or subtracting from the penalty.

DVLA Freedom of information requests made by Licence Link obtained offence data for 2016 and 2017. Comparing and analysing the data graphically shows the impact of the revised guidelines.

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The Importance of Up To Date Information.

Being able to anticipate critical events and proactively take action in order to limit any potential risk associated with those events, requires information that is authentic, accurate and up to date. When lacking information exhibiting these three attributes, analysis and reporting will be unreliable.

Technology has provided the means to be able to store massive amounts of data. Tools have been developed that provide the functionality to organise, sort, interrogate and query this data. All kinds of analysis can be done in order to discover trends, patterns, behaviour and preferences. Importantly it can be used to predict and alert. But such powerful databases and toolsets become useless if the data is defective or neglected.

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The UK Professional LGV Driver Shortage.

The average age of LGV drivers is currently 53. The shortfall in LGV drivers by 2020 has been estimated to be 150,000. It is not good news then that over the last 20 years there has been a 40% decline in teenagers learning to drive. What are the reasons for this and how can this trend be reversed?

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that in 2019 many CPC holders, where their DQC cards expire, may choose to retire rather than renew their cards. So this is very much a candle being burned at both ends, where the young are not considering driving at all, never mind as a vocation and the existing senior and experienced vocational drivers are considering the option of retirement or taking on a less demanding occupation.

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