One way of conveying the message to drivers is through a driver handbook. These can clearly state how they should operate company vehicles, and their rights and responsibilities with regard to the vehicle, on and off the road.
Several companies and organisations offer handbook templates, including the Energy Saving Trust (EST), which has cut-and-paste driver handbook templates available free online (www.est.org.uk).
A spokesman at the EST said: ‘The driver handbook plays an important role within good fleet management. It is not a stand-alone document but it has a significant role to play alongside the fleet policy statement and other guides and contracts affecting fleet.’
Three template handbooks are available – basic, intermediate and advanced versions, all varying in depth and content. There is also a downloadable declaration form, which drivers sign to confirm they have read the handbook.
The EST spokesman said: ‘The series of templates has been created to enable fleet managers to quickly and easily build a handbook to meet all needs.
‘The templates can be used to form the basis of a new driver handbook, incorporate into existing documents and use as a checklist against which to evaluate a current driver handbook.’
The EST recommends that fleets advise drivers to store a handbook in the glovebox of their company vehicle for ease of access and to prevent it being misplaced.
Norwich Union also has a free downloadable version on its Roadsense website which also gives advice on risk management procedures (www.norwichunion.com/roadsense).
Information on issues such as driver vetting and investigating accidents is included on the website, alongside the driver handbook template.
As with most templates, fleet managers download a basic format. Additional details are then added to create a bespoke handbook for the individual fleet. An example paragraph from the Norwich Union driver handbook template illustrates how they can be tailored.
It states: ‘If you do not receive your new taxation disc within two days following the expiry of the previous one, you must notify the accounts department at (………) who will then make enquiries for the delay and, where necessary, obtain a duplicate.’
Driver training and risk management provider Peak Performance has also developed a driver handbook template covering all aspects of risk management and operational information for fleets of between five and 5,000 vehicles.
The template is supplied in Microsoft Word format and can be amended to meet specific circumstances.
In the handbook, there are areas highlighted in red that require information from the company, such as insurance details.
If legislation changes, Peak Performance will email fleets advising of the change. They will then supply a revised or additional section for the handbook.
Peak Performance’s handbook costs £195 (plus VAT), which includes all future updates.
Having a driver handbook is the first step to meeting duty of care obligations but it is vital that drivers sign a declaration form to confirm they have read the book and will abide by its content.
Bill Pownall, risk manager motor at Norwich Union, said: ‘The driver handbook should ideally have a tear-off declaration slip which drivers keep in their wallets.
This could also include important telephone numbers and information.’
Driver handbook aims
EST driver handbook recommendations: how many of these points does yours cover?