Leveraging licence checks

Licence checks as part of 360° driver profiling for a safer, lower-cost fleet.

TMC Fleet Guide

Corporate exposure to driving licence risks goes well beyond the possibility of a key worker being unable to do their job, or even get to work, if they are disqualified.

Unlicensed drivers pose obvious risks to fleets’ compliance with Health & Safety and Duty of Care legislation. And more than that, business officers themselves can be fined, endorsed or even disqualified for “causing or permitting” workers to commit driving offences.

Licence checks should be in place for everyone who drives on business, however infrequently. And while outsourced licence checks can be taken as a standalone service, this paper also makes the business for implementing a 360-degree approach to driver risk profiling, compliance and cost management.

New smartphone App-based telemetry makes such a programme low-cost and easy to roll out; achieving significant cost savings especially when integrated with a fuel and mileage solution.

To learn more about driver licence checks and the huge potential benefits from consolidated data, please read on. To arrange a demonstration of our checks today, please contact us here or call us on 01270 525 218.

How can TMC help with licence checks?

TMC handles the entire end-to-end process of checking driving licences. Replacing cumbersome paper-based administration, we make use of a highly secure web-based portal and an instant DVLA licence check to verify individuals’ driving licence details.

As well as standard licences, our service covers checking whether drivers also have HGV eligibility. In 2020 we will add the option to check the validity of HGV drivers’ digital tacho cards, which they must renew every five years.

How it works:

  1. You provide us with the details of every driver that requires a driving licence check. All signed mandates are verified by the DVLA. The DVLA licence check is returned in seconds.
  2. All drivers will be asked to complete the DVLA Declaration online to give their consent to the driving licence check and provide their full name, address, date of birth and driving licence number. This consent is valid until the employee ceases to drive in connection with the company, or in any case, three years after the date of their consent. Employees can also withdraw their consent at any time.
  3. Any drivers who fail to complete the declaration are chased by TMC until compliance is achieved. Mileage capture users will not be able to make mileage claims until they have consented to the licence check, adding a further incentive to comply.
  4. Licences at higher risk due to current points tally or serious driving offence codes, can be monitored at a higher frequency for a monthly fee (£0.50 per licence per month).

Ongoing monitoring

Once an initial round of checks has been completed, we can manage the frequency of future checks based on the number of endorsements each driver has. This helps to minimise your exposure to risk and ensure that every driver is licenced to drive at all times.

Requesting, obtaining and collating information on dozens or hundreds of drivers is time consuming and requires significant amounts of resource to be committed by your business.

By passing this task to TMC, you could significantly reduce operating costs.

With the component topics shown below, we will show you how TMC can help you with your licence checking.

Licence checks and other risk/cost data

While licence checks are essential and can be carried out as a stand-alone activity (and TMC offers a stand-alone service if required), it’s well known that achieving significant improvements in overall risks/costs means understanding how all the elements affect each other so issues can be addressed systematically.

The breadth of data that is now available for each area ought to make coordinated risk/cost management easier.

But the problem is that the datasets don’t mix easily. Different suppliers use different formats, with standalone dashboards. These often lack a common baseline, e.g. monthly mileage.

Unless the company has specialist skills and applications to aggregate and interrogate multiple types of fleet data, information ends up in silos with few openings for the fleet team to leverage information across different risk management products and suppliers.

To overcome this obstacle, TMC has developed Compliance+, a proactive service that aggregates and interrogates multiple data points (feeds) to gain a complete view of driver behaviour regardless of what type of vehicle they drive – from HGV/LGV, through to company cars, cash allowance and grey fleet:

Compliance+ takes feeds from telematics, fuel card and insurance providers, as well as leasing company(s) data, mileage and duty of care data. For grey fleet, we couple this data with our traditional programme called Visa to Drive. This is an employee self-serve tool that uses TMC’s App based software, along with our team of expert auditors to collect, collate and verify employee documentation to fulfil duty of care obligations.

Visa to Drive’s comprehensive suite of options includes auditable records of:

  • DVLA licence checks
  • HGV eligibility
  • International licence checks
  • Additional driver licence checks
  • Whether vehicle is taxed
  • Vehicle safety inspection – including photo uploads
  • Oil checks
  • Tyre pressure checks
  • Service check
  • Vehicle age
  • MOT certificate verification
  • Fleet policy acceptance
  • Grey fleet driver insurance policy verification

With Visa to Drive you can be sure that your grey fleet drivers are insured at all times.

New app telemetry

The latest version of TMC’s smartphone App is capable of actively recording and managing employees’ driving style. It collects data on harsh braking, accelerating, swerving and speeding events, along with a “distraction factor” based on handset use while driving – all without the need to purchase telematics hardware.

By actively managing driving styles, the App helps reduce accidents and repair costs. It also helps to protect drivers’ licences – enriching Driving Licence Check data with real-time visibility of risky behaviours.

Licence Checks are essential, of course. The following sections of this guide highlight the necessity of protecting your business by ensuring employees hold valid driving permits.

Licence offences and duty of care

How common are licence offences?

  • There are nearly 34 million driving licences in the UK.
  • 8 million of them carry penalty points
  • Around 80,000 drivers had nine points on their licences in 2019. The trigger for a six-month “totting up” ban is 12 points.
  • Home Office records show over 2 million speeding prosecutions in 2018.
  • 340,000 drivers were prosecuted for driving licence and insurance offences that year.
  • Courts disqualified 58,000 motorists in 2017.
  • Eight thousand went to court for driving while disqualified.
  • 91% of speeding prosecutions in 2017 were successful.
  • Over a million UK drivers every year choose to attend a speed awareness course rather than have points on their licence.

Courts also dealt with over 8,000 offences of “causing or permitting” someone to commit a licence or insurance offence. That is when the court decides that someone other than the driver was jointly responsible for the offence. This could be their employer or manager. If convicted, the court will impose the same penalty, (3-8 penalty points per offence, plus fines), on them as on the driver.

Detection of unlicensed drivers and uninsured vehicles has increased greatly in recent years due to fixed and mobile automatic number plate reading (ANPR) cameras. By 2019 there were over 11,000 ANPR cameras nationally, submitting 50 million “read” records per day to a database where they are stored for a year.

Licences and Health and Safety

The official advice on managing at-work road safety, issued by the Health and Safety Executive, includes carrying out regular checks on the licences of all business drivers, including grey fleet.

“Do you check the validity of driving licences on recruitment and periodically afterwards?” HSE Driving at Work: Managing work-related road safety.

Companies are not legally obliged to check licences. But because checks are included in official advice and are professionally available for as little as £2.50 per driver per year, they are a significant risk management measure every company needs to consider implementing.

Police investigations

Investigations of road traffic incidents involving at-work drivers are normally carried out by the police. They will look at the driver and employer’s compliance with the Road Traffic Act and the vehicle construction and use regulations. In serious cases, they can also review the employer’s policies around driver safety, licence status, fitness to drive, etc., to evaluate whether its overall approach to Duty of Care was a contributory or mitigating factor.

Driving licence law

In principle, UK driving licence law is very clear. A driver must:

  • hold the appropriate driving licence for the vehicle being driven
  • meet the minimum age requirements
  • meet the legal eyesight and appropriate medical standards

This guide focuses on licences for cars, LCVs and minibuses because they have similar age and medical restrictions and apply to most working drivers.

There are very many grounds for a licence to be non-valid. Disqualification or revocation are two obvious reasons. Others include being too young to drive the category of vehicle or not being licensed for it. Many medical conditions or eyesight problems restrict or prevent people driving.

This makes it essential to carry out licence checks on all business drivers.

Your licence is also at risk

As already stated, the employer or manager of an unlicensed or incorrectly licensed driver can be prosecuted for one or more of aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring, causing, allowing, permitting, encouraging or persuading them to commit the offence.

There are four specific licence offences and one insurance offence:

  1. Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence
  2. Driving after making a false declaration about fitness when applying for a licence
  3. Driving a vehicle having failed to notify a disability
  4. Driving after a licence has been revoked or refused on medical grounds
  5. Using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks

The licence offences incur a tariff of 3-6 points per offence and the insurance offence carries 6-8 points. In theory, a manager could incur up to 14 points from one incident and therefore be liable for a six-month ban under the totting-up rule.

Example

Following a traffic accident, a police investigation found that the fleet driver involved did not have a valid licence. This meant their insurance cover was also invalid. The driver admitted the offences but claimed their employer put pressure on staff to meet targets didn’t bother to check licences. The police visit the company. They find no checking system or records showing whether employees can legally drive. They advise the employee’s line manager they may face charges of causing or permitting the employee to drive without a licence and to drive without insurance.

More than 60 ways to lose a licence

There are 68 licence endorsement codes for different offences. Each comes with a penalty tariff between 3 and 11 points. Accumulating 12 points within three years normally means disqualification for six months.

2.3 million UK drivers had three or more points on their licence at the start of 2019.

Points for less serious offences count for totting-up purposes for three years from the date of the offence, though they stay on the licence for a further year. Points for reckless or dangerous driving, and offences resulting in disqualification remain on the licence for four years from the date of conviction.

Points for driving or causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs remain on the licence for 11 years from the conviction date.

Licence checking

A driver can check their own licence record at the GOV.UK website by inputting their driver licence number, national insurance number and the postcode shown on their licence

They can generate a check code that allows someone else, e.g. their employer or a car hire company, to view their licence information.

Finally, employees can sign a DVLA declaration allowing an Accredited Licence Check service to access their licence information.

All three checks provide the same information:

  • Whether the licence is valid (e.g. that it exists, and is not currently revoked or the holder disqualified)
  • Vehicle class eligibility
  • Penalty points, if any. There are more than 60 codes altogether. Codes like DR10 (drink driving) or DD10 (driving dangerously) imply a higher level of at-work road risk.
  • Other codes, e.g. ‘01’ denoting the driver must wear corrective lenses while driving or ‘78’ which means the driver is only licensed to drive vehicles with automatic transmission

In-house vs outsourced checks

In-house

The driver must first consent to a check. They obtain a DVLA check code from the GOV.UK website and provide it to the employer together with the last four digits of their driver number. The code is valid for 21 days.

There is no charge for queries using a check code, though if you are checking more than a few drivers, individual lookups can become very time-consuming to administer. If you want to keep a record of each licence you check, you will need to screenshot or print three browser tabs each time.

The information you need to get a check code—NI and licence number and postcode—may all be accessible in the driver’s HR file. However, it is illegal under data protection legislation to generate and use a code without the employee’s explicit consent.

Outsourced checks

An accredited licence check provider supplies you with consolidated licence data from the DVLA database, typically via an information dashboard.

After you have given the provider your drivers’ information, there should be minimal admin requirement, especially where they deal directly with employees over consent for DVLA checks.

Consent mandates are valid for three years (or until the employee ceases to drive for the company, if sooner).

Outsourcing is cost-effective compared to the internal overhead of obtaining codes and consents, making repetitive lookups on the DVLA portal, and saving and filing the query results.

TMC’s service costs £2.50 per check, which includes administering DVLA consents and maintaining and updating the client dashboard. There is the option to carry out more frequent checks on licences with higher points for £0.50 per month per licence.

Who to check

Everyone who drives on business

Every employee who drives for your organisation, even infrequently, should be checked to ensure they have a valid licence.

Employers’ Duty of Care under health & safety law extends to all business journeys irrespective of whether the vehicle is company-owned, leased, hired or privately-owned.

Offences of causing or permitting someone to drive unlicensed or uninsured can arise from the use of both company and grey fleet vehicles.

Risk groups to look out for

Some groups among the working driver population present additional licence risks.

Newly qualified drivers

A driver who gets six or more penalty points within two years of passing their test has their licence revoked immediately. A fifth of revoked licences in 2018 were held by people aged between 30 and 55. To get a revoked licence back, the driver must reapply for a provisional licence, then pass the theory and practical driving/riding tests again.

Older employees and employees with health conditions

Drivers must notify the DVLA if they have any of a wide range of medical conditions including Parkinson’s, epilepsy, any chronic neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis, any condition that affects both eyes, or total loss of sight in one eye and diabetes if it’s treated with insulin.

It is the employee’s responsibility to tell the DVLA about medical issues, and of course they also should tell their employer.

Depending on the condition, the DVLA might limit their driving licence to vehicles with special controls, or bar the person from driving certain categories of vehicle, such as minibuses. Codes on their licence show which restrictions apply. The DVLA can also issue a licence valid for only 1, 2 or 3 years, pending a further medical review. It may also take away their licence temporarily or permanently.

Licence checks ensure that any licence restrictions are identified whether or not an employee chooses to inform the company.

Non-UK licence holders

Around 2.4 million EU nationals and 1.3 million non-EU foreign nationals lived and worked in the UK in mid-2019.

At the time of writing, driving licences issued in EU/EEA countries are valid in the UK for all permitted classes of vehicle on the licence without time limit until the expiry date on the licence.

Holders of licences issued in 15 other “designated countries” including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe, can drive here on them for up to 12 months. After that, they must exchange their national licence for a UK one or stop driving.

Licences issued in the rest of the world can be used to drive a car or motorcycle in the UK for up to 12 months. After that, the driver must get a UK provisional licence and pass the UK test within two years.

TMC’s licence checking service covers checks, advice and declarations for international as well as UK licence holders.

Fake licences

Fake UK licences are rare—but not so uncommon that companies can safely rely solely on sight of a photocard or photocopy.

UK licence-holders can easily obtain a second copy of their photocard licence to produce as ID if they are later banned. A professional licence check would quickly reveal that the licence was not valid. That is another reason not to rely solely on visual checks.

Additional drivers

Partners and family of company vehicle drivers are not intrinsically more of a licence risk than employees, but if fleet your policy allows additional drivers you should of course verify their licences as well.

Grey fleet policy

Corporate risks and the checking process around grey fleet driver licences are the same as those for company vehicles. Many employers go a step further and make licence checks part of a holistic programme for managing all aspects of grey fleet safety and performance (see licence checks and other risk/cost data).

Dealing with "problem" drivers and licences

The most common issue with checks is getting drivers to provide a check code or sign a DVLA consent in the first place. Chasing drivers eats up valuable management time, which is why TMC takes on the task of prompting drivers for declarations as a standard part of our Driving Licence Check service.

With TMC’s services, employers can make mileage expenses pay-outs conditional on drivers complying with fleet policies including licence checks.

If a driver persistently avoids being checked

If an employee prevents their employer from checking their licence online, HR, legal and/or safety may have to be brought in to discuss the position with the driver. The company risks being found jointly liable for any licence or insurance offences being committed.

How often to check?

Usual practice with licence checks is to check company and grey fleet drivers with 0-5 points on their licences once a year.

Licences with six or more points need to be checked more often due to the higher risk of the driver being taken off the road (possibly hiding the ban from the company).

Twice a year is the minimum recommendation for licences with six or more points.