Company Handbook/Guidelines

The culture generated by an organisation provides the framework within which its staff operates. The rules and attitudes which the culture encourages and accepts are the benchmarks against which all members of staff within the organisation can compare themselves and their behaviour. This culture must be adopted by all on “Top Down” basis to ensure that this is embedded in this Company’s’ ethos.

Given the amount of information drivers need to know, and rules, regulations and procedures they will be required to comply with, a Drivers’ Handbook is an essential tool. It will clearly state the driver rules and regulations and help explain to drivers the importance of driving safely and how to drive safely.

Drivers should be given a copy each and required to read and learn the information in it and keep it with them in their vehicle.

The drivers’ hand book should be tailored to the individual Company but should include:

  • Alcohol/drugs use before/while driving; Specific mention of content of the relevant section of the Highway Code could usefully be made
  • Application of company disciplinary procedures and sanctions; Statement that procedures may be invoked for contravention of any sections of Health and Safety policy and/or Driver Handbook
    Authorised drivers/uses; Who may drive; notification of additional drivers; any limitations as to use of the vehicle.
  • Carriage of passengers; Prohibition of, or circumstances under which it is permissible; who may be carried.
  • Company policy regarding daily/weekly driving times/mileages;
  • Company policy regarding driving standards and compliance with the law; Statement of support for provisions of current Highway Code; responsibility of driver to be familiar with Highway Code; statement as to responsibility for payment of fines (speeding/parking etc)
  • Company policy regarding mobile telephone/ communication use;
  • Dress code; Applicable generally to delivery drivers, engineers and similar
  • Overnight parking; A list of approved lorry/coach parks: reminder that failure to use approved park could result in disciplinary procedures
  • Post-incident procedures and reporting lines; Statement of law as to exchange of details/reporting of incident to the Police; reminder as to use of Collision Details Card/camera
  • Responsibility for the notification of convictions etc;
  • Responsibility for the notification of illness etc;
  • Vehicle cleanliness and maintenance;
  • Vehicle defect rectification procedures;
  • Including authorised repairers and payment methods
  • Vehicle defect reporting lines;
  • Vehicle selection criteria; Instructions as to security, performance or other criteria to be applied to vehicle selection
  • Vehicle and contents security; Instructions as to securing vehicle at all times when unattended; secretion/ removal of valuables; key safety; list of approved lorry/coach parks.

Ensure that appropriate language is used, that will be understood by local employees, and do test drivers’ comprehension of the handbook.

Driver Selection

It is generally estimated that as many as 95% of all road traffic incidents result directly from driver error. It is therefore critical that proper attention is given to the management of this area of risk. A
number of these areas will now be reviewed. It is important to recognise that these procedures need to be regularly monitored to include checks on all persons who may drive vehicles.

Experience

Time invested in ensuring that suitable drivers are employed is well spent. It is generally much less cost effective to identify and attempt to deal with weaknesses in an individual’s character or driving once they have been allocated, and begun to use, a company vehicle.

It is important, therefore, that:

  • Those responsible for recruitment understand precisely the nature of the driving task associated with the appointment to be made
  • The recruitment process itself allows those individuals possessing the qualities necessary for the performance of that task to be identified.

Wherever possible an interview conducted by an appropriately trained individual should form part of the selection process. The practice of employing drivers simply on the verbal recommendation of a current employee rarely proves reliable.

References

References should be requested and obtained from previous employers wherever possible. Matters concerning the honesty and collision history of the individual, together with their general use of a company vehicle, should be included in the request.

It is a matter of judgement as to whether the most useful reference is likely to be obtained from written or verbal contact with the employer. Care needs to be exercised if a telephone call only is made – it is not unknown for the number provided to be that of a willing accomplice rather than a genuine referee.

Driver Induction

The period during which a new starter is inducted into a company represents an excellent opportunity not only for the explanation of all relevant systems and procedures, but also for the communication of the priority placed on safety by their new employer.

The length and complexity of the induction process will vary considerably between business operations. However it is formatted, the overriding purpose of the exercise from a fleet risk management perspective is to leave the individual in no doubt as to all the rights and responsibilities emanating from their use of a company vehicle, and of all the relevant systems and procedures that are in place to support these.

Driving Licence Inspection

The inspection of an individual’s driving licence to check their legal entitlement to drive is critical. It should be viewed as one of the issues fundamental to the discharge by an employer of their duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that all vehicle movements made on their behalf are carried out safely. Furthermore, insurance cover could be invalidated where a driver is unlicensed or if motoring convictions are not disclosed.

Nature of the inspection

In order to reduce the likelihood of fraud the production by the individual of their original driving licence, as opposed to a copy, should be required.

  • A photocopy of the driving licence should be taken and held on file.
  • The date of inspection of the driving licence should be recorded
  • The signature, name and initials and date of birth on the driving licence should be compared to other specimens/details provided by that individual.

Even the production of the original driving licence document does not guarantee that the licence produced reflects the driving record of that individual as it is held at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) on that particular date. For instance, the individual may have been in receipt of a driving ban but failed to surrender their licence to the court.

It is a sensible measure, therefore, for the recruitment process to include contact with the DVLA to obtain information from an applicant’s current driving record. This may be done by telephone providing the individual is present, or by post. Verbal confirmation can be given by phone and no fee is charged.

The driving licence inspection must show an entitlement to drive that is current and covers the category of vehicle in question. The licence should be signed and show the holder’s current address.

We offer a licence check service which manages and completes the entire process of routinely checking employees driving licences.

Driver Risk Assessments

Medical/Health checks

Potential drivers should be checked to ensure that they do not have a medical condition that may affect their driving. If a driver has a health condition that has worsened since the licence was issued, or develops a new medical condition, this must be notified to the Drivers Medical Unit of the DVLA. The operator needs to ensure that drivers are aware of the requirements. The list of conditions which must be notified is extensive, and subject to regular review. Up-to-date details can be found on the DVLA website at www.dvla.gov.uk however a summary of conditions is shown below:

  • An epileptic event (seizure or fit)
  • Sudden attacks or disabling giddiness, fainting or blackouts
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Any other chronic neurological condition
  • A major or minor stroke
  • Any type of brain surgery, brain tumour or severe head injury involving in-patient treatment at hospital
  • A serious problem with memory
  • Any severe psychiatric illness or mental disorder
  • Severe mental handicap
  • Dependence on or misuse of alcohol, drugs or chemical substances in the past
  • 3 years (do not include drink/driving offences)
  • Any visual disability which affects both eyes (not short/long sight or colour blindness)
  • Diabetes controlled by insulin or tablets
  • A pacemaker, defibrillator or anti-ventricular tachycardia device fitted
  • Angina (heart pain) while driving
  • Any other heart condition
  • Sleep apnoea syndrome
  • Any other condition which causes excessive daytime/awake time sleepiness
  • Severe spinal injuries
  • Continuing/permanent difficulty in the use of arms or legs which affects ability to control a vehicle
  • Any other medical condition likely to affect ability to safely control a vehicle

A medical A to Z is available on a government website to see if there is a need to notify the DVLA about a medical condition.

In the bus/coach and haulage industries drivers aged 45 years are required to undergo a medical examination in order to retain their licence, and every five years thereafter. A special medical report form D4 is required. The operator should make enquiries about these examinations, and whether or not the driver suffers any disability that could affect their ability to drive.

From 2013 new measures came into force to meet new European requirements. Under 45’s who drive HGV’s will need to confirm medical fitness and renew licences every 5 years. They will not require a full medical report and will only be required to review their photograph every 10 years.

The following additional medical conditions must be notified for such drivers:-

  • Sight in only one eye
  • Any visual problems affecting either eye
  • Diabetes controlled by diet
  • Profound deafness
  • Treatment within the last 5 years for
    • Lung cancer
    • Melanoma
    • Non-hodgkins lymphoma
    • AIDS
    • Chronic renal failure

Driver Training Programs

The need for training Driving skills, in common with all others, become dulled over time. As drivers become more experienced there is a tendency for sloppiness to creep into both their manipulative actions (for instance, the way in which the steering wheel is held) and their hazard perception (for example, failing to check left and right when proceeding through a green traffic light). Sharpness is lost, non-valid assumptions tend to be made, and thus the risk is increased.

In addition, awareness of rule changes becomes virtually non-existent over time. The Highway Code is either consigned to the bin or passed on to another (more needy) member of the family, and the means by which drivers can be informed of many rule changes (notification by the DVLA with the vehicle excise licence reminder) often goes direct to their company.

The benefits of training

An accurately targeted, well-structured and effectively delivered programme of driver training has the following effects:

  • The profile of driving safety within the organisation is raised
  • The driving standard of those individuals in receipt of the training is improved, thus rendering them less likely to be involved in collisions. Additionally, such a programme:
    • demonstrates the commitment of management to the issue of safety, and
    • allows disciplinary procedures to follow more easily where guidelines and instructions issued during the training have been ignored.

We actively promote the role of driver training in risk management and can provide you with access to RoSPA practical and theoretical driver training courses at preferential rates.

Targeting the training

Once the decision has been taken to implement a training programme an analysis should be carried out of the recent collision experience of the fleet in order that particular trends may be identified, e.g. identification of the most common types of collision, drivers who are repeat offenders etc. This allows the training to be targeted to specific areas, and maximises its cost effectiveness. In many instances there will be no specific trends present, and the fleet performs ‘typically’. It is important to understand that road traffic collisions are repetitive, and a small number of different collision-types may occur many times over. Driver training delivered by a reputable organisation should be targeted towards reduction in the most prevalent types of collisions and incidents, and should reduce the collision frequency of a fleet with a ‘typical’ or ‘average’ record.

Presentation to the drivers

Care needs to be taken with the presentation of the programme. A perception that it is either a punishment, or that it results from a lack of confidence by management in their ability, is unlikely to result in a positive response from drivers. They are then unlikely to derive the maximum benefit from the programme. In view of this it is often an effective idea (where possible) for senior management to be amongst the first to participate in the programme.

Training format

Typically driver-training courses for business users consist of a ‘classroom’ or ‘theory’ session followed by a period of in-vehicle training. The in-vehicle session should be an opportunity for the drivers to more fully explore the issues raised in the classroom, and practise any new ideas and techniques suggested by the trainer for the reduction of the risk to which they expose themselves.

A number of programme formats are available which allow the basic mix of theory and practical to be delivered while at the same time minimising business disruption for the fleet operator/motor trader.

Records

Records should be kept that allow the effectiveness of the training programme to be assessed. For instance, a comparison may be made of the collision frequency of the fleet in the twelve months prior to the programme with the same period following it. Alternatively (and in particular where a large fleet is concerned and the training is carried out over a considerable period of time) a comparison may be made between the collision frequencies of trained and untrained drivers.

  • Finch Group Offices

    If you’d like to get in touch, you can either make an enquiry through the website, or contact our local office.

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