Company car and van drivers working in consultancy and the utilities have the most penalty points on their licences, while those in the financial and public sectors have the least, according to new research.
The research released by CFC Solutions breaks down the percentage of drivers with and without points for key industry sectors, based on several thousand users of its licence checking software.
It reveals that more than 8% of employees driving in the consultancy sector and more than 7% driving for UK utility companies have more than five points on their licence – approaching one tenth of their entire fleet.
“Having a greater number of higher-risk drivers in what might be considered to be higher-risk occupations concerns me greatly, but does not surprise me,” explains Chris Charlton, road risk manager at CE Electric UK.
“For many years, it has not been the custom to invest in an individual’s driving, particularly where the vehicle was provided to enable an individual to carry out their primary role.”
Every company has a legal obligation to their drivers to make sure that they are as safe as possible while out on the road.
There are a number of ways that companies can tackle duty of care for their drivers from educating them with risk assessments, further training and leaflets and manuals.
Companies can also carry out safety checks on the vehicles themselves, making sure they are serviced regularly and maintained.
But licence checking can provide the first effective step in accident management in terms of assessing an organisation’s drivers.
“Driving is something that we all do and very much take for granted and there was clearly an assumption that drivers did not need additional training so it did not receive the priority it deserved,” says Charlton.
“We are now seeing the consequences of that lack of priority. That is not to say that utilities drivers are bad or unsafe drivers. Yes, they pick up penalty points but that fact alone does not make them bad drivers.
“CE Electric UK has what I would consider to be a great record. We can do better which is why Occupational Road Risk features as a priority on our safety improvement plan. In fact, driving is now used as a litmus test for their attitude towards wider risk activities.”
CE Electric has a manual driving licence checking system which is about to be upgraded and made more robust.
At the moment, it relies on management referral when penalty points are identified or when a Notice of Intended Prosecution is received from the police.
In these cases, drivers are required to undertake a targeted workshop and an on-road driving assessment dependent upon the nature of why the points were acquired.
“For example, a driver who accumulates six penalty points for speeding offences will be referred to an in-hours speed awareness workshop,” says Charlton.
“We also have the option to provide additional training should it be required. We invest heavily in training these individuals for their principal role – it makes sense to invest a little bit more to keep them driving to get the best from that initial investment.”
In the financial sector, more than 93% of drivers had no points on the licence, while public sector drivers (91%) and healthcare drivers (89%) had the second and third highest percentages respectively of low risk drivers.
Damian James, Fleet News award winner and fleet manager at Bracknell Borough Forest Council, was not surprised by the public sector’s results.
“Generally for work purposes drivers are travelling short distances and infrequently,” says James. “Our average mileage is 7,000 miles per annum.”
He checks licences annually except when a driver has six points or more when he moves to quarterly checks.
“A driver mandate is signed at each check which asks that we get updated if the status of their licence changes during the year,” says James.
“We don’t check licences with the DVLA direct mostly due to cost. Copies are scanned onto our fleet management system and the next check date updated.”
Drivers who fall into higher risk groups may require some kind of remedial action such as additional training and also need a much closer eye keeping on them.
“This is something that employers need to take seriously,” says Neville Briggs, managing director at CFC Solutions.
“Their licence should be rechecked perhaps every three months or even monthly to see if they have been penalised with additional points that could even see them banned.”