Derby-based Licence Check is offering advice to fleet and other managers regarding vital licence checking services whilst the current Coronavirus crisis forces many businesses into lockdown and home-working, including covering the latest changes in regulations.
New Driver Qualification Card rulings
The Department for Transport has put in place temporary changes in professional driver qualification requirements as, during the Coronavirus outbreak, it may be difficult for drivers to complete the required training.
This means that those drivers whose Driver CPC card, also known as the Driver Qualification Card (DQC), expires in the period from 1 March to 30 September are allowed to continue driving on the expired card until October.
However, Licence Checks says that despite this relaxation, it still remains vitally important to check a driver’s entitlement to drive a vehicle, especially as many firms are now hastily recruiting new delivery drivers in sectors such as food and parcel distribution.
Terry Hiles, General Manager at Licence Check, now part of the Ebbon-Dacs Group, said: “The new relaxation of the DQC rules does not excuse the obligation to check driving licences to ensure drivers remain entitled to drive the class of vehicle they are using. The same applies to new drivers who are about to drive for the business for the first time.”
To implement this change and prevent their customers receiving automated warnings that their drivers’ DQC has expired over this period, Licence Check is amending its systems to take into account the new rulings, and will not flag up urgent warnings or perform automatic re-checks for expired cards until after October 1st.
Onboarding new drivers
With many businesses taking on new drivers in the current crisis it remains vital to check their licences before assigning them drivers’ contracts, but to do it in as safe as way as possible, mindful of current social distancing advice. The same is true for charities or locally sponsored initiatives using volunteer drivers.
The DVLA offers a service that allows drivers to share their driver record using a single use code. This service remains active during the current pandemic.
However, where a third party licence checking service is used the normal induction processes may need to be modified and rules adapted. Currently, Licence Check’s most popular and regularly used method of adding drivers to the system is its e-approval process, which requires little intervention from the company other than adding the driver’s name and email address into DAVIS to send them an invitation to register with the service from their own premises.
The system then does the rest, emailing drivers remotely until permission for a check to be carried out is gained by a digital driver declaration. Some 54% of licence checks are currently carried out by Licence Check using this method. The check can be completed without the parties coming into contact and negates any cross contamination risk.
However, where a driver cannot use the e-approval method or is required to attend the workplace for onboarding special precautions may be warranted.
Licence Check has issued guidance on their face-to-face onboarding method by proposing that businesses may want to produce fair processing documentation in the form of laminated cards so they can be wiped down with sterilising wipes after each driver has handled them.
Carry out a driver audit
Due to the significant downtime of other activities, it may be an opportunity time to complete a number of housekeeping tasks that there might not have been time to do otherwise. One of these could be a thorough driver audit of existing drivers right across the company.
This will allow the fleet manager to confirm which employees drive for work and what type of vehicle they drive. It may also provide an opportunity to archive any drivers that no longer work for the business. A driver audit also presents an opportunity to review work related road risk profiles.
Driver permissions typically remain valid for three years, so now might also be a good time to identify which drivers will soon need to provide a new permission to allow continued checks on their licence. Where new permissions are required, now may be the opportune moment to secure fresh permissions – especially if there are fewer distractions or other pressing tasks on their to-do lists..
Improve driver safety during furlough
Those drivers identified as high risk may require additional support in the form of driver training and e-learning to mitigate the risk. Under HMRC furlough rules, training is permitted, but employees must not be providing services or making money for their employer.
Training in driver safety, improving driver behaviour, road safety, and reduction in accidents and incidents, would it appears, be permitted, provided this was not mandated by employers as a furlough requirement. The period off work would seem to present employees with an opportunity to polish up their driving skills for the benefit of themselves and other road users in a calmer and better learning environment than might otherwise be the case.
Licence Check’s recently launched e-learning programme has been developed with road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, and can be completed remotely, helping improve driver behaviour and decrease the businesses’ overall risk score.
Terry Hiles said: “This is a very challenging time for companies globally, yet amongst all the chaos, many cogs are still turning.
“The vast majority of businesses have now asked that employees work remotely – but this is still an opportunity to carry out key housekeeping tasks that you may not normally have chance or the time to consider. When we emerge from the current situation, such housekeeping will ensure they are prepared for the re-boot and will pay dividends in the future.
“Systems like DAVIS that are web-based mean that managers can access the complete licence checking service from home, whilst the latest apps provide the flexibility to check on driver and vehicle risk remotely as required.
“That way, the appropriate steps can be taken to ensure drivers are operating safely and legally and that the company is meeting its duty of care obligations – vitally important in these unprecedented times.”