Employers bear the responsibility of carrying out thorough checks to ensure that any individual they employ as a driver is legally compliant and competent to undertake the task.

While this seems straightforward, it’s often overlooked.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, driving without a valid licence is an offence, as is allowing someone to drive without one.

Therefore, implementing a stringent system for driver licence verification is vital in preventing the recruitment of ineligible drivers.

The most obvious and essential verifications include the confirmation of a valid driving licence, checking for any penalty points, and confirming the driver is legally eligible to operate the class of vehicle required.

These checks should also discover if drivers require corrective eyewear or if there are any health conditions that could impair their driving capabilities.

The Ramifications of Neglecting Driver Checks

Ordinarily, accumulating 12 penalty points results in a driving ban.

However, individuals can appeal in court, arguing that a revoked licence would inflict excessive hardship, thereby seeking permission to continue driving despite surpassing the point limit.

Freedom of Information (FOI) inquiries submitted to the DVLA have revealed that thousands of UK drivers are legally navigating the roads with more than the permissible 12 points on their licences.

One such probe by MotorEasy disclosed DVLA statistics (current as of April 2021) that identified 8,237 drivers exceeding 12 points, with one individual astonishingly operating with a remarkable 68 penalty points yet still driving legally!

Furthermore, information obtained from the DVLA by IAM RoadSmart (as of December 2020) indicated there were over 92,000 drivers possessing between 9 and 11 penalty points, teetering on the verge of disqualification.

A case in point of the potential hazards involves an individual who, despite accruing 54 points, persuaded a court to retain his licence to pursue employment as a mobile tyre fitter.

This decision potentially placed an employer at risk, possibly providing him with a company van and equipment valued around £40,000, without knowledge of his driving history.

Overlooking licence checks, therefore, exposes employers to such precarious hires.

What Should Initial Driver Checks Include?

At the outset of the recruitment process, the first diver checks any employer should carry out should include:

  • Checking for any penalty points.
  • Medical and eyesight evaluations.
  • Verification of eligibility to operate the specified category of vehicle.
  • Confirmation of insurance for business purposes (relevant if the individual uses a personal vehicle for work-related activities).
  • Acknowledgement and agreement to company policies (as previously outlined).
  • Participation in introductory training programmes.

Continual Driver Checks

After conducting the initial verifications, ensuring that your drivers possess the proper licences and are medically cleared to operate vehicles is essential.

The rationale behind not employing an unsuitable driver extends to maintaining updated checks; this ensures no one becomes a liability over time while they are under your employment.

An alarming number of drivers in the UK are stripped of their driving privileges due to various infringements, and an equally significant number relinquish their licences for health-related reasons.

Conducting routine assessments will help identify these instances before they result in an accident or worse.

It’s advisable to verify licences with the DVLA at least once a year. However, several employers adopt a more frequent scrutiny approach, especially if drivers have accrued penalty points.

Find out how you can use FleetCheck LicenceAssured to quickly and efficiently check your drivers’ licences by clicking here.

They may also establish certain benchmarks — for instance, drivers with a specific number of penalty points or those who cover extensive distances might be subjected to more frequent evaluations.

Your continuous driver checks should encompass:

  • Regular Licence Reviews: This includes checks for penalty points, and assessments of eyesight, medical fitness, and vehicle category eligibility.
  • Acknowledgement of Policy Updates: Ensure drivers have received and understood any amendments to the Driving For Work policies.
  • Training Fulfilment: Oversee the completion of any necessary training modules.
  • Accident or Incident Documentation: Maintain a record of any vehicular incidents.
  • Records of Offences and Penalties: Keep track of any driving offences and fines incurred by your staff.
  • Complaints and Disciplinary Measures: Document any grievances filed or disciplinary actions taken in response to driver behaviour.

The point of comprehensive driver record maintenance is to fulfil your legal responsibilities, safeguard your drivers, and protect your business following any road incidents by recording these events in real-time.

This practice is crucial, especially when disseminating policy modifications or mandating supplementary training.

For drivers operating specialist vehicles, hauling substantial cargo, or towing, these records confirm that any requisite advanced training has been administered and completed.

Continued Driver Management: It’s More Than Just Licence Checks

I want to end by reinforcing that it’s crucial to recognise that thorough documentation of driver records will help you with:

  • Fulfilling your legal obligations concerning driver supervision.
  • Promptly pinpointing drivers who pose a greater risk.
  • Providing necessary training as and when needed.
  • Keeping drivers informed about any alterations in company policies.
  • Minimising potential damage to your business’s reputation.

If you’re looking for a fleet management solution that will ensure you have a safe and compliant fleet, call our team on 01666 575900 or click here to book a demo.