The warnings come after a disproportionate rise in the number of eastern European drivers the courts are referring to driver education courses following drink-driving convictions.
Figures from the TTC Group –the country’s largest provider of the Department for Transport’s drink-drive rehabilitation scheme – show that eastern European drivers prosecuted for drink- driving are twice as likely to have excessively higher levels of alcohol.
More than 10% of the 1,100 drivers referred by the courts in June to TTC courses were from Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia.
Of those, 28 had given breath samples more than two-and-a-half times above the legal limit.
“This snapshot from just one month shows the disproportionately high number of eastern European drivers being convicted of drink-driving,” said TTC Group director Jenny Wynn. “And they were not just a bit over the limit they were double and even treble the legal limit.”
Mrs Wynn advises fleet operators to educate prospective employees about the rules of the road before they begin work.
Leading the way, Tesco.com has already translated the Highway Code into Polish and now employs a recruiter located in Poland to ensure prospective employees are suitable.
Fleet managers are also facing other obstacles when employing foreign drivers. “It is virtually impossible to check on the status of a foreign licence,” explained Saul Jeavons from corporate road safety specialists, the Transafe Network.
“However, drivers can exchange their licence for a British one, and so best practice is to set policy and employment contracts to require them to exchange for a British licence on commencement of employment, allowing their licence to be checked for endorsements and bans.”
The DVLA says there is no need for any EU motorist with a valid car driving licence to exchange that licence for a UK one until he or she reaches 70 years of age. When an EU motorist comes to the UK aged 68 or 69 he or she must apply for a British licence within three years.