You probably already know how important it is to keep your company’s fleet compliant with all relevant legislation. It’s an obligation that covers everything from maintenance and loading to drivers’ licences and time spent behind the wheel.
However, maintaining a compliant fleet goes beyond simply doing the right things, you must also be able to prove that you have taken all reasonable and necessary steps to guarantee a safe working environment, including providing ‘appropriate tools and means’ for employees to maintain this approach.
This all sounds sensible enough, and something that any responsible employer should take seriously, but a structured approach to fleet compliance has benefits beyond the safety of employees and those with whom they come into contact. In fact, maintaining a fully compliant fleet can help businesses of all sizes reduce operational costs and gain a competitive advantage by operating more efficiently.
With this in mind, here are our ‘Top 10’ ways to better manage fleet compliance:
What: View maintenance guidelines provided by each manufacturer as a minimum acceptable level and adjust schedules according to your own operational environment, giving particular attention to safety critical components such as brakes and tyres.
Why: Having clear processes for fleet maintenance, including regular inspections and documentary proof they are being carried out, is a specific legal requirement.
It is estimated that a business stands to lose around £700 per day in lost productivity when a car or van is off the road. In terms of commercial vehicles, the DVSA stops around 15,600 vans each year, which it estimates can cost businesses up to £4,000 per day, per vehicle.
What: Make sure all vehicles used on company business, including those owned by employees, have valid insurance, VED and MOT. Check that copies of the MOT and insurance certificates are kept in each vehicle to reassure the driver and to present to police should the vehicle be pulled over.
Why: Companies are liable should they permit a vehicle they own, operate or allow to be used for commercial purposes to be driven without complete and legally valid documentation.
3) Daily Vehicle Checks
What: Drivers should check their vehicles daily using a ‘walkaround’ check before each use and record any defects found. Major faults, especially those affecting vehicle safety, should be fixed before allowing the vehicle to be driven.
Why: The early identification of potential issues allows for preventative maintenance to take place, thus reducing vehicle downtime and unnecessary or excessive repair costs.
4) Record Keeping
What: Whilst businesses operating goods vehicles are legally required to maintain records of all maintenance and safety inspections for a minimum of 15 months, consider extending this to all vehicles operated by the company.
Why: Good record keeping ensures legal compliance, creates a safety culture within the business and ensures preventative and remedial action takes place promptly.
5) Driving Licences
What: Make an annual check that all employees driving on business hold a valid license that is appropriate for the vehicle driven. The DVLA also recommends three monthly interim checks for drivers with six points or more. It is also a good idea to take more than one form of ID from drivers (including agency drivers) and cross check them with driving licence details.
Why: It is an offence to permit staff to drive without a valid driving licence and doing so will also void all insurance. In a worst-case scenario, your business could be fined under the Health and Safety at Work Act, where fines range from £180,000 to £20 million.
6) Driving Hours
What: Ensure that all relevant staff are aware of the strict rules on how many driving hours are permitted for drivers of company goods vehicles and keep records of working times for at least two years. Whilst these rules don’t apply to car drivers, a 15-minute break for every 2 hours driven is advisable.
Why: Driver fatigue is a factor in around 20% of all road accidents in the UK and a serious infringement of driving hours legislation can result in a prosecution of both the driver and operator.
What: Any vehicle over 3.5 tonnes registered after 2006, vehicles carrying more than 9 persons or those used for towing trailers in connection with your business, are required to have a working digital tachograph installed.
Why: Tachograph data helps business fleet operators control driving and rest times and can serve as evidence in the event of an accident or legislative check. Failing to ensure all appropriate vehicles have working tachographs installed can lead to a fine of up to £5000.
8) Vehicle Suitability
What: Ensure that you always use a vehicle with the right size, capacity and equipment for the job. Remember to also check your load weights and bear in mind that the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) includes fuel and driver/passengers, plus payload.
Why: An overloaded van performs differently to one that is operating within its recommended weight range. This can put both driver and other road users at risk and could also result in a fine for the vehicle operator.
9) Driver Assessment and Training
What: Creating a robust system for monitoring driver behaviour, including infringements of UK law or company policy, will ensure that targeted driver training can be provided based on the needs of each individual.
Why: Driver training can help improve fuel economy, decrease accidents and their associated downtime, and reduce maintenance and repair costs by ensuring vehicles are driven according to optimum operational guidelines.
10) Health Checks
What: Ensure that drivers are encouraged to swiftly report any medical issues that could affect their ability to safely operate vehicles and, where appropriate, assist them in adjusting work schedules or obtaining relevant medical care to address any such issues.
Why: All business fleet operators have a duty to ensure that all drivers are physically and mentally fit to drive. This includes creating a culture whereby drivers feel able to report physical or mental issues without fearing loss of employment, earnings or sanctions.
Maintaining a fully compliant fleet isn’t always easy. It relies on an approach driven by the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law. However, it is well worth the effort because getting it right means more than simply meeting a legal obligation, it can help your business increase efficiency and better manage the risks and costs associated with operating any size of business fleet. To find out more about how our experts can help, just get in touch.