aving a clear driver safety policy is an essential part of running a fleet. Every organisation has a duty to look after its employees – including drivers. But the driver also has a duty to look after their vehicle and their own personal safety.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states: “You must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work.
“You must also ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving activities.”
Creating a driver handbook with key information, policy and limits is important, together with ensuring that drivers have read, acknowledged and signed the document.
Drivers need to have properly read and understood the policy for it to work effectively. If a policy is created but never properly shared with staff, then it is worthless.
Fleet operators should ensure all staff, including senior managers, understand that the organisation expects everyone who drives for work to drive safely for their own and others’ benefit.
Although restrictions such as speed limits and seatbelts are set by law, a policy should still include information such as this.
The policy should also state that those driving on business require a full driving licence, and how long they should have held it for. Licence checking and frequency should be included.
Drivers should also be reminded of the minimum eyesight levels and details of the company eye testing policy, if available, should be given.
Drivers should visually check their vehicles weekly.
Tyre tread should meet the legal minimum 1.6mm level, with details of the tyre replacement process and the tread depth at which you recommend tyres should be changed.
Bulbs, oil and screenwash should be checked and details provided of replenishment. A reporting procedure for bodywork damage should also be provided.
Road safety charity Brake recommends drivers stop for a break at least every two hours for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Mobile phone use
Hand-held mobile phone use is illegal, and a fleet policy should state this. It is also an offence to ‘cause or permit’ a driver to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Therefore, employers can be held liable as well as the individual driver if they allow employees to use a hand-held phone while driving.
However, the use of a hands-free mobile phone is at the employer’s discretion. Many have completely banned mobile phones at the wheel, including hands-free use.
The policy should also state that drivers must not use their phone to text, check email or any other associated tasks while in control of a vehicle.
Alcohol and drugs
Staff must not drive for work if their ability to do so safely is impaired by alcohol, drugs or medicines. The legal drink-drive limit is 35mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The Government is in the process of introducing specific drug-drive limits; however, the recommended policy for both alcohol and drugs is zero tolerance.
It is also worth mentioning ‘morning-after’ drink-driving in your policy, so that drivers are aware of the possible effects of this while on company business.
Testing kits for drug use are now also available, and if you plan to use these in suspected cases of drink or drug driving, you should mention this in your policy.