It’s been just over a year since paper licenses were abolished, with online checking of driving licences brought in as a quick and easy alternative to paper filing.
However, while the initial take up was high amid a blaze of publicity, 12 months down the line and many employers remain unaware of their own obligations and are still not checking licences.
Whether a business is purposefully ignoring the situation or is just blissfully unaware, the repercussions could land them in serious trouble.
By not checking employees’ driving licences on a regular basis, they could be missing drivers who have convictions, may not be insured or are even not qualified to be driving a specific vehicle.
If one of these people is involved in a road collision while driving for work purposes, it is the employer who – in the eyes of the law – is negligible and therefore liable to prosecution, fines and substantial insurance pay-outs.
According to the Department of Transport, more than one in four road accidents potentially involve drivers travelling to work, whilst the DVLA estimates that 22% of people are driving with out-of-date documents, and one million are just three points from being disqualified.
These figures alone should scare businesses into double-checking their processes.
However, when we speak to many organisations, there is a lack of understanding that they need to be checking their employees’ licences if they drive for work. There is also no excuse to be made on the size of your fleet – whether you are a small business owner with four vans, or a major organisations with thousands of vehicles, the same rules apply.
While your business may have policies in place that employees must update you on any changes to their licence, is it worth the risk to place the responsibility in their hands?
Alongside a lack of awareness, it could be that ownership is an added problem – for example would this be an issue for a HR department, fleet managers or something that rests in the lap of a finance team?
From our own experience this varies from business to business, but what is clear is that too many people believe that to check licences requires significant administration and time.
It would be quite onerous to check the validity of licences with regular photocopying. An alternative to checking and photocopying licences is to use form D888/1 to gain written permission from the employee to contact the DVLA about licence validity and driver entitlement.
This simple, one-click consent is delivered quickly, online, and allows employers to monitor who has responded.
Consent lasts for three years and a good system will alert the employer to categories such as convictions, photocard expiry and medical renewal requirements.
At First Travel Solutions for example, we use a dashboard-style interface which also alerts employers if any staff are close to accumulating points which would lead to a ban.
One final point for employers is that the regulations encompass company-owned vehicles AND those driving their own vehicle on company business.
If a disqualified driver has an accident whilst driving a company vehicle, the company is liable and not the insurance company. If a disqualified employee drives their own vehicle on company business and has an accident, if a claim is progressed in the civil courts the employer may be pursued. The employer may, therefore, incur financial costs.
It is vital for employers to take ownership of this process. An employer cannot guarantee that an employee will tell them if they have been fined, endorsed or disqualified – particularly if their job might be on the line.