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Fleet legislation - an introduction

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There are a range of laws that fleet managers and their drivers need to adhere to.

These range from road safety laws such as speed limit regulations, anti-drink driving legislation and minimum vehicle standards rules to health and safety regulations in the workplace and even anti-smoking laws that apply in company vehicles.

Some of the key legislations are:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Employers have a ‘duty of care’ for the safety of employees at work, regardless of the type or size of business. There is also a duty of care to others who may be affected by their business activities which, in the case of driving, means all other road users.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Employers are required to carry out risk assessments, make arrangements to implement necessary measures, appoint competent people and arrange appropriate information and training. 

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

The Regulations ensure work equipment is suitable for its intended use, safe and inspected, and properly maintained. They also require those using the equipment to be properly trained.

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1996

These set out the standards for vehicles on UK roads.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

These cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues including traffic routes for vehicles within the workplace.

  • EC Drivers’ Hours Rules
  • UK Domestic Drivers’ Hours Rules
  • The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005

It is both the driver’s and employer’s responsibility to ensure compliance with drivers’ hours and Tachograph Regulations. They are applicable to goods vehicles in excess of 3.5 tonnes.

Road Traffic Acts, supported by the Highway Code

It is an offence for an organisation to set driver schedules that may cause them to break speed limits and/or have reward schemes that in any way incentivise them to do so.

Drink driving regulations

It is against the law to drive or be in control of a vehicle if you have 80mg of alcohol or more per 100ml of blood, 35mcg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50mg per 100ml of blood. However, the rules are currently being revised.

Smoke-free legislation

The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 came into force in July 2007. It banned smoking in company vehicles that are used by one or more people for work. The ban applies to all cars/vans/lorries at all times if they can be used by one or more people (as driver or passenger) in the course of paid or voluntary work, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time.

Therefore, smoking will be prohibited in all vehicles which are used primarily for business purposes by more than one person. Vehicles used primarily for private purposes or for business purposes only by the driver are exempt and employees can smoke in those vehicles.

Using a hand-held phone or sat nav while driving

It’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. You must have hands-free access, such as:

  • a bluetooth headset
  • voice command
  • a dashboard holder or mat
  • a windscreen mount
  • a built-in sat nav

The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

You can get 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if you use a hand-held phone when driving. You’ll also lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last 2 years.

You can get 3 penalty points if you don’t have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.

You can also be taken to court where you can:

  • be banned from driving or riding
  • get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus)


New rules will come into force next year which mean holders of commercial licences will have to have their eyes tested every five years, and holders of private licences will be tested every 10 to 15 years.

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  • peter ross - 27/08/2012 00:31

    THE ROAD TRANSPORT WORKING TIME REGULATIONS HAVE CHANGES.Please see interesting case of Ross v Eddie Stobart Ross v Eddie Stobart Ltd UKEAT/0085/10/CEA. The EAT overturns a tribunal’s decision that a ‘mobile worker’ had not been automatically unfairly dismissed for making a protected disclosure or for a reason relating to health and safety, but rather had been dismissed because he was difficult to work with. It also holds that a period of three days during which the worker was taken off driving duties but required to remain on site did not amount to a ‘period of availability’ under the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 and therefore counted towards the calculation of his working time. 23. It will be recalled that the Respondent required the Claimant to remain in the depot for the 3 days at the end of March and beginning of April – because otherwise he would exceed his working time. Mr Simpson described this as a "period of availability". If it were working time, it would of course have the effect of increasing the average working time during the reference period – precisely what the Respondent had to avoid. 24. However, it is plain from the definitions which we have quoted that a period of availability is defined as meaning "a period during which the mobile worker is not required to remain at his workstation". The "workstation" includes the Respondent's main and subsidiary places of business. So, by requiring the Claimant to remain at the depot Mr Simpson took the time out of "period of availability" and made it working hours. As Mr Simpson indicated in his own statement, this would take the Claimant outside the permissible average of 48 hours per week. 25. Put shortly, an employer cannot require a driver to remain on duty at the depot where he works during a "period of availability". If he does, the time will cease to be a "period of availability." It will become working time; and it will count towards the calculation of average working time during a reference period. 26. On behalf of the Respondent Mr West did not formally concede this point, but he did not make any reasoned submissions to the contrary. 27. It was this question which was the subject of what the Tribunal called "some discussion" between the Claimant and Mr Simpson. The Tribunal described it as a "grey area". We do not agree. The very definition of "period of availability" shows that it cannot include time when the driver is required to be at the depot where he works. The Claimant was right; Mr Simpson was wrong. Put shortly it is illegal to work up to 7o and hours per week . Many drivers are working to the point of fatigue and having accidents and other problems as a result. The DFT need to change the guidance and publish it.

  • Heather Bee - 16/07/2014 12:09

    Fleet News! Has this been on Have I Got News For You? Can see Paul Merton's face now! ;-)

  • Jo Barber - 03/02/2021 16:16

    Thank you - I'm now taking on more responsibility for our Lease & Grey Fleet drivers and have found your article the most helpful. Thank you again.

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