Fleet News

Handbook checklist for canny fleet managers

UNDER duty of care regulations, employers are responsible for their staff while at work. As this includes fleet managers and drivers, it is imperative that all parties understand what is required of them.

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.’

  • Information sources include Fleet News’ website www.companycardriver.co.uk

    Driver handbook aims

  • Provide basic information on who can and who cannot drive the vehicle

  • Motivate employees to take good care of their cars and treat the costs as if they were paying personally

  • Set out levels of authority for initiating work on the vehicle

  • Outline procedures to be followed if the company vehicle becomes damaged, is involved in an accident or breaks down

  • Indicate how to protect the interests of the individual, the company and the insurance company in the event of a potential claim
    Source: EST

    EST driver handbook recommendations: how many of these points does yours cover?

  • Information about the car scheme
  • Allocation
  • Payment for private use of company cars
  • Car replacement
  • Fuel use and control
  • Driver responsibilities
  • Driver training
  • Road safety/health and safety
  • Driving licences/licence checks
  • Vehicle excise duty (VED)
  • Reporting
  • Mobile phones
  • Time at the wheel
  • Loading and unloading/stowage
  • Drink and drugs
  • Roadworthiness
  • Driver responsibility for maintenance
  • Daily/regular checks
  • Cleaning
  • Scratches, dents and malfunctions
  • Leaving the vehicle unattended
  • Traffic fines and offences
  • Payment of fines
  • Notice of intended prosecution, summons etc
  • Loss of licence
  • Operational matters
  • Seat belts and child restraints
  • Driving for economy
  • Fuel card
  • Recording vehicle mileage
  • Estate cars
  • Relief vehicles/car hire
  • Fitting/removing accessories
  • Towing
  • Caravans/trailers
  • Insurance and theft
  • Insurance cover
  • Insurance certificates
  • Insurance declarations
  • Theft claims
  • Insurance cover for personal possessions
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Servicing procedures
  • MOTs
  • Repairs
  • Breakdown procedure
  • Tyres, batteries and exhausts
  • Windscreen breakage
  • Dissatisfaction with service
  • Loan or courtesy cars
  • Accident procedure
  • Actions required under the Road Traffic Acts
  • Use of accident management service – if applicable
  • Estimates for repairs
  • Completion of accident report form
  • Claims involving third parties
  • Replacement car
  • Driving abroad
  • Private use abroad
  • Authorisation
  • Accidents and breakdowns
  • Fuel costs
  • Returning the vehicle
    Source: EST
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