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Fleets Informed

Fleets Informed

Jaama Q&A

Why compliance should be your priority 

Penalties for breaches of law can be severe, so it pays to ensure your fleet complies. Here, Jaama looks at the chief considerations

1. Which transport regulations do company cars and vans have to comply with, and how do these differ between the two types of vehicle?

Employers have compliance requirements under a raft of legislation for on-the-road activities including: Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, Working Time Regulations
2005, The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Health Act, 2006, Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide 2008 and Disability Act 2010.

They also have duties under road traffic law – the Road Traffic Act and the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) regulations, which are administered by the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

While these apply to all vehicles, it is particularly noteworthy that there is currently particular enforcement activity around the number of overloaded vans on the roads and those suffering from serious mechanical defects.

To aid fleet compliance with all legislation, all managers should adhere to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Driving at Work: Managing Work-related Road Safety guidance and van operators should become accredited to best practice initiatives including the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme and the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence initiative.

While these apply to all vehicles, it is particularly noteworthy that there is currently particular enforcement activity around the number of overloaded vans on the roads and those suffering from serious mechanical defects.

To aid fleet compliance with all legislation, all managers should adhere to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Driving at Work: Managing Work-related Road Safety guidance and van operators should become accredited to best practice initiatives including the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme and the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence initiative.

2. What are the penalties for failing to comply with these regulations?

The penalties under the array of legislation are many and varied. They can extend from fines and driving licence points for offending drivers to managers being prosecuted and potentially jailed and employers being subjected to fines running into millions of pounds in the event of a ‘gross breach of a relevant duty of care’.

However, organisations should also be aware of the reputational damage that can be caused by a vehicle being involved in a serious road traffic crash or businesses falling foul of other regulations. Loss of customer confidence can have a major impact on retaining existing work and winning new contracts, thus potentially undermining company viability.

3. What is the most efficient way for a fleet to track the compliance of its vehicles with these regulations?

It is critical that fleet decision-makers have a holistic view of driver and vehicle risk. Therefore, the most efficient and effective way to track compliance is by utilising a cutting-edge fleet management software system that manages by exception and proactively analyses fleet data. That might include, for example, imminent vehicle service and MOT requirements enabling downtime to be planned. 

The system should also provide a comprehensive data audit trail including, in respect of vans, a record of daily ‘walk-around checks’ as well as, for all vehicles, a full service, maintenance and repair history and vehicle documentation: log book, road tax and insurance etc.

4. How can an employer ensure that all staff who drive on business hold the appropriate licences and have no health issues that might impact on their safety to drive?

The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that, as well as it being an offence for a driver to drive without a valid licence, it is also an offence for a person to permit a driver to drive without a valid licence. Employers therefore have a duty to check the validity of employees’ driving licences both on recruitment and periodically thereafter, at least annually. Best practice indicates that checks should be against the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency database and not simply a visual check.

Employment contracts should indicate that employees must report driving offences to their employers so full records are maintained. Additionally, if a driver has penalty points on their licence, it should be checked more frequently to ensure they do not go above the threshold set out in the company fleet policy or in priority law. It is also important to ensure that employees’ are encouraged to report to their employer any health concerns that may impact on their ability to drive. That should include if taking any medication, however temporary.

5. How can an employer ensure it complies with the regulations concerning the storage of data on employees and vehicles?

Amid increasing fines for personal data breaches, organisations must ensure compliance with legislative requirements, such as the UK Data Protection Act, and provide confidence that they have the ability to both manage data and dispose of it in accordance with the law.

Software systems used to store data must be sufficiently policed to only enable access to authorised personnel and, if the data is stored in a third party system best practice suggests the organisation should be compliant with ISO 27001 certification for information security management.

Accreditation guarantees that controls and other forms of risk treatment are in place to help prevent and defend against potential information-related security vulnerabilities.

The certification also ensures that the information security controls continue to meet requirements on an ongoing basis around the management of data including, for example, employee details and information entrusted to third parties.

6. What is the best HR strategy to ensure company drivers comply with their employer’s fleet policy regarding behaviour behind the wheel, on issues such as driving style, mobile phone use, and drink- and drug-driving?

Organisations have a legal duty to implement suitable arrangements to manage health and safety. The HSE, in its Driving at Work: Managing Work-related Road Safety guide, outlines a ‘plan, do, check, act’ approach.

It is therefore essential that the fleet policy, which should reflect the company’s health and safety policy, clearly establishes employees’ roles and responsibilities in respect of work-related road safety and, critically, is communicated to all drivers with clear instructions on staying safe on the road. Importantly, the policy should be supported by the steps to be taken in the event of non-compliance.

To confirm that the policy has been read, understood and accepted by all drivers –those at the wheel of company-provided vehicles and employees driving their own cars on business – it should be signed for. The employees’ acknowledgement should then be added to their employment record.

The policy should reflect all drivers’ responsibilities, from carrying out routine safety checks, such as those on tyres, lights and fluid levels to not driving under the influence of drink and drugs and not using a mobile phone unless parked and with the engine off. It should also reflect the requirement to drive safely at all times and thus consideration should be given to work schedules and traffic and weather conditions.

To ensure compliance with mobile phone and drink- and drug-driving policies, consideration should be given to implementing random checks with notification of the potential for them taking place contained in the fleet policy.

Fleet policies should not be set in stone and should continually evolve. It is therefore essential that all amendments are communicated to drivers and an audit trail of the updates being received and understood by drivers maintained.

For further information: Web: jaama.co.uk, Email: enquiries@jaama.co.uk, Call: 0844 8484 33