Companies need to check licences to remain compliant

Figures released under a Freedom of Information request have revealed the importance of regular driving licence checking to ensure companies remain compliant with the law.

The information, from the DVLA, showed that thousands of driving licence holders are still legally driving on Britain’s roads despite having 12 or more points on their licences, while some 2.9 million drivers across the UK have points on their licence.

The DVLA figures revealed that there were a total of 6,884 drivers with 12 points or more are still legally driving on UK roads – the usual limit before a driver is issued with a driving ban, unless a court accepts a submission of ‘exceptional hardship’.

Analysis of the data also revealed regional variations: more than 235,000 people across just seven towns and cities in Scotland have at least one point on their licence while at least 400 drivers in Yorkshire are known to have 12 or more points.

What do the figures reveal?

The DVLA data demonstrates that no company can be complacent about the roadworthiness and eligibility of its drivers, particularly those businesses that have employees on the road as part of their job.

It is estimated that there are approximately eight million UK drivers currently driving for work in approximately 1.7 million companies.

And it remains a key component of meeting duty of care obligations that employers carry out regular and rigorous checks of driver licences, not just to monitor penalty points but also to ensure workers have the correct licence for the vehicles they drive.

Since the decision by the Government to scrap the traditional paper counterpart to the driving licence last summer, the bulk of licence checking has now switched to electronic means, with online licence checking becoming far more prevalent.

Surge in online checking

The Association for Driving Licence Verification (ADLV) – the association set up to promote and encourage best practice within the licence checking industry – has reporting a surge in online commercial licence checking from fleets following the abolition of the paper driving licence counterpart.

The ADLV forecasts that the total number of licence checks carried out in 2015 by its members was in excess of two million.

The ADLV also believes that the scale of increase in the rate of growth is also a reflection of its campaign to encourage electronic checking as a fundamental best-practice for fleet management.

Following the abolition of the licence counterpart, the message appears to have got through that electronic checking is now a best practice for those fleet managers keen to comply with the highest legal standards.

How frequently should checks be carried out?

The ADLV has recently urged fleet managers to increase the frequency of checks from annual to quarterly in order to identify high-risk drivers, such as those with mobile phone convictions.

As increased checking means that high risk drivers are spotted more quickly, there is a growing realisation that embracing electronic checking contributes significantly to road safety. Any increase in checking frequency therefore translates directly into the roads being safer for the public.

With electronic checking facilitating the ever-more extensive use of so-called ‘big data’, organisations are able to gain a far greater degree of knowledge about exactly who is entitled to be behind the wheel of their vehicles.

New online system replaces old

The new online system comprises a ‘view driving licence’ facility which is available via the Government website at https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence

To be able to access their driving licence details online, drivers need to input their:

  • Driving licence number
  • National Insurance number
  • Post code

This then takes them to another part of the website, where they can generate a unique access code, valid for 21 days, that they can share with employers or daily rental companies to provide access to their licence details.

Driving licence information via this facility can only be made available with the consent of the driving licence holder.

The employer, or rental company, can use the driver-generated access code to check relevant licence details such as penalties or endorsements directly from the driver’s information held within the DVLA’s own driver database.

What are the benefits of the new system?

Drivers can use the new online service to:

  • view their driving record, including the class of vehicles they are entitled to drive
  • create a licence access code to share their driving record with a third party such as an employer or daily rental company

The access code will be valid for 21 days to allow the third party to see:

  • what vehicles drivers are entitled to drive
  • any penalty points or disqualifications they may have
  • the last 8 characters of their driving licence number.

All new penalty points are recorded electronically on drivers’ records, and will not be printed or written on either photocard licences or paper driving licences.

The only way to verify if drivers are legally entitled to drive, and do not have excess endorsements on their licences, is through the online system.

Why driving licence checking is important

Online licence checking helps fleets avoid issues surrounding licence renewal, endorsements or verification of new and existing licences. Data for an entire fleet is now collated in a single place electronically, and should cut down administration considerably.

It is an offence if a company allows an employee to drive a vehicle for work without a valid licence. And the Health and Safety Executive’s guide, Driving at Work, says employers should satisfy themselves that drivers are competent and capable, and asks the question: do you check the validity of the driving licence on recruitment and periodically?

More than one in every 200 company car, van and truck drivers does not hold a valid licence to legally drive their company vehicle, according to analysis by one of the leading licence checking organisations.

At CLM, we can provide a licence checking service to ensure all your drivers’ licences are valid for the types of vehicles they drive and that they do not have excess penalty points.

If you’d like to find out more about driving licence checking, then please get in touch.