As a provider of a company vehicle to an employee, it is your responsibility and duty to both the driver and your company to ensure that the driver is fit and able to carry out his duties whenever he/she is driving on company business.
To ensure this is the case a risk assessment of each of your drivers is not only a duty of care but also common sense. It ensures drivers are legal, conversant and compliant with health & safety (H&S) legislation, and fully aware of what their responsibility is when in charge of their vehicle.
This H&S ‘culture’ has to start at Manager level to ensure best compliance with company car policy with all drivers, including Managers, understanding and signing the company’s Duty of Care policy preferably prior to receiving the keys to their company vehicle.
Risk assessment starts with checking all drivers’ licences. Penalty points on a licence are not only an indication of a driver’s attitude to the law but could be stress-related: that person may not be fit to drive your vehicle. It may also be an indication that the driver is reckless with an ongoing disregard for safety or duty of care compliance. In these situations a risk assessment can cover everything from knowledge of the Highway Code to driver attitude and it may be that some form of re-training may be necessary.
It is important to define your fleet, drivers and attendant risk, including the vagaries of grey fleet (where company business is carried out in the driver’s privately bought and insured vehicle), so that training is fit for purpose and relative to the type of driving to be undertaken by each driver separately. Please remember that a company can still be liable in terms of the law for damage incurred when a driver is using his/her own vehicle on company business.
The cost to the company of any incident is always far greater than the monetary cost of the repair and includes the time an injured driver is off work, the time a vehicle is off the road, the cost of a short term as well as a long term replacement not to mention the non- specific cost of management time in administration. Also, if drivers are involved in a number of incidents, their insurance premiums will inevitably increase.
A Duty of Care policy is absolutely essential in embedding good practices by imposing restrictions on bad behaviour when in a company vehicle such as the use of mobile phones when driving and not observing speed limits.
The Manager needs to ensure in every case that the driver has signed the Duty of Care document. This will not only go a long way to making sure that everyone has been made aware of what is acceptable behaviour but will also reinforce with the drivers their personal responsibilities with regard to Health & Safety matters.