Licence Check is offering advice to fleet decision-makers regarding licence checking services while the coronavirus outbreak forces many businesses into lockdown and remote-working.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has put temproary measures in place regarding professional driver qualification requirements, as the ongoing coronavirus challenge may make it difficult for drivers to complete the required training.
Therefore, those drivers whose Driver CPC card, also known as the Driver Qualification Card (DQC), expires within the period from March 1 to September 30, can continue driving on the expired card until October.
However, Licence Checks says that despite this relaxation, it remains vitally important to check a driver’s entitlement to drive a vehicle, especially as many firms are now recruiting new delivery drivers in sectors such as food and parcel distribution.
Terry Hiles, general manager at Licence Check, now part of the Ebbon-Dacs Group, said: “The new relaxation of the DQC rules does not excuse the obligation to check driving licences to ensure drivers remain entitled to drive the class of vehicle they are using. The same applies to new drivers who are about to drive for the business for the first time.”
To implement this change and prevent their customers receiving automated warnings that their drivers’ DQC has expired over this period, Licence Check is amending its systems to take into account the new rulings, and will not flag up urgent warnings or perform automatic re-checks for expired cards until after October 1.
Onboarding new drivers
With many businesses onboarding new drivers in the current crisis, licence checking remains vital before assigning new drivers’ contracts, but do it in the safest way possible and be mindful of the current social distancing advice, Licence Check advises.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) offers a service that allows drivers to share their driver records using a single code, this service remains active during the current pandemic.
However, where a third-party licence checking service is used, the normal processes may need to be modified and rules adapted.
Licence Check uses an e-approval process when adding drivers to its system – Davis – that allows the check to be completed without parties coming into contact and prevents any cross-contamination risk. The system emails drivers remotely until permission for a check to be carried out is gained by a digital driver declaration. 54% of licence checks are carried out by Licence Check using the e-approval method.
Hiles said: “Systems like DAVIS that are web-based mean that managers can access the complete licence checking service from home, whilst the latest apps provide the flexibility to check on driver and vehicle risk remotely, as required.
“That way, the appropriate steps can be taken to ensure drivers are operating safely and legally, and that the company is meeting its duty of care obligations – vitally important in these unprecedented times.”
Where a driver cannot use the e-approval method or is required to attend the workplace for onboarding, special precautions may be warranted.
Licence Check has issued guidance on their face-to-face onboarding method by proposing that businesses may want to produce processing documentation in the form of laminated cards so they can be wiped down with sterilising wipes after each driver has handled them.
Carry out a driver audit
Due to the significant downtime of other activities, it may present an opportunity to complete a thorough driver audit of existing drivers across the company.
Licence Check says this will allow fleet managers to confirm which employees drive for work and what type of vehicle they drive. Fleet managers can also archive any drivers that no longer work for the business. A driver audit also presents an opportunity to review work related road risk profiles.
Driver permissions typically remain valid for three years, so now might also be a good time to identify which drivers will soon need to provide a new permission to allow continued checks on their licence. Where new permissions are required, it may be the ‘opportune moment’ to secure fresh permissions, says Licence Check.
Improve driver safety during furlough
Drivers identified as high risk may require additional support in the form of driver training and e-learning to mitigate the risk. Under the HMRC furlough rules, training is permitted, but employees must not be providing services or making money for their employer.
Licence Check says that training in driver safety, improving driver behaviour, road safety and reduction in accidents and incidents, appears to be permitted, provided this was not mandated by employers as a furlough requirement.
Hiles said: “This is a very challenging time for companies globally, yet amongst all the chaos, many cogs are still turning.
“The vast majority of businesses have now asked that employees work remotely - but this is still an opportunity to carry out key housekeeping tasks that you may not normally have chance or the time to consider.
“When we emerge from the current situation, such housekeeping will ensure they are prepared for the re-boot and will pay dividends in the future.”
Licence Check has recently launched an e-learning programme that has been developed with road safety charity, IAM Roadsmart, and can be completed remotely to help improve driver behaviour and decrease the business’ overall risk score.
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