Writing your Vehicle Duty of Care Policy can be a pain! We have written this guide to help you and highlight the important points your policy should include.
We recommend you think of your vehicles as “mobile offices” and download or print an 8 page leaflet by the HSE called “5 steps to risk assessment” from our PDF downloads it will help you to understand the basics of what your policy is all about.
Your introduction or mission statement should outline your company/organisations “culture” when dealing with its vehicle fleet with regard to such things as defensive driving, risk assessment, driver’s hours and regular health checks for both driver and vehicle. You should inform people that your policy is a complimentary addition to the main company policy and should be read in conjunction with their contract of employment and a current copy of the Highway Code.
A business driver is anybody who drives any vehicle on Company Business.
In this section you should explain that any driver out on the public roads on the company or organisations business is a company driver and that includes the person that uses an “owned” vehicle on Fridays to collect the fish and chips at lunchtime for the workforce.
Your policy must explain the driver’s responsibilities to the vehicle and respect for it, the limitations and responsibility of use by the driver and others while using a vehicle on business and the management structure authorising a business driver.
Some people use this area to explain driving licences and reporting procedures for them but we prefer this to be included in the LEGAL section.
NB – Reporting structure – Approved Driver List
The company is responsible for any vehicle, company owned, privately owned or hired with or without driver. When it is used on company business explain your procedure checks for:
Right vehicle for the job
Safe use within the law.
This must be explained clearly in terms of how the company will and will not allow a vehicle on company business to be used e.g. with (trailer) and where (abroad), as they all impinge on the above four.
NB – Reporting structure – Approved Vehicle List – Servicing List
SAFE USE OF A VEHICLE
This is one of the most important sections of any Vehicle Duty of Care policy and you understanding its full implications and how you write it.
It is also where the reporting structure is at is most important and also where it breaks down in a lot of companies.
An example to illustrate what we mean:-
A company driver driving their own car is involved in an accident killing their passenger. The police decide the driver was well above the speed limit both for the road and weather conditions. On further investigation it was found that the driver had been driving to a 4pm sales meeting on the instructions of management and was late. It was also discovered that one of the front tyres was less than 1.6mm. Further investigation by police of company records showed the driver was on a sales bonus scheme related to the number of new customer visits per week.
The Police can lay charges against the driver from driving without due care and attention to dangerous driving and even manslaughter. He will be charged for the illegal tyre, gain 3 points on his licence and receive a fine of up to 2,500.
The Police could also lay charges against the company and its officials for corporate manslaughter if they think they were negligent in their duty of care by the structure of reporting from driver to company and was not actively followed (tyre) and that the sales bonus scheme brought unreasonable pressure on the driver to perform. At the minimum the legal officer of the company, usually the company secretary, will have their licence endorsed with 3 points and a fine (tyre).
NB – No matter how good your Vehicle Duty of Care Policy is with regard to the legality, safe use and clearly stipulates NO work schedule incentives for drivers, if your support structure is not active, problems will occur. Sorry but we will say this again. No matter how eloquent your Duty of Care Policy is written, with all the “do this, don’t do that,” unless – Your Reporting Structure is Robust and Active – You will fail in your Duty of Care!
Sometimes vehicle security is mixed with Insurance or safe use of a motor vehicle. We feel that security is not only that of the vehicle itself but also where it is parked on company premises, customers’ premises and overnight and therefore needs a section of its own.
In this group you base everything your drivers and vehicles need to stay legal on the roads and what happens when they don’t!
You need to clearly outline your company/organizations stance on all things that will stop a person driving legally from drinking, driving offences to non payment of fines and who is responsible for payments both fines & court offences needs to be made clear.
You need to make drivers aware here that they also have a duty of care to keep you informed through the proper procedures which you write of any changes to themselves or the vehicle they drive that could result in legal action. Your main approved lists stem from this section because failure to maintain any one of them can result in Legal Action against the driver and or your company/organisation.
NB – Reporting structure – Driving Licence List – Tax & MOT List – “O” Licence List – Insurance List
All vehicles used on company business need business cover and it should be made clear to the drivers the position of both the company and insurance company.
The driver is at their most vulnerable immediately following an accident and therefore it is here that you want to be sure that you have done all that you can to support the driver while protecting the company to make sure that the correct procedures will be followed.
NB – Accident forms – for the last time, honest! A strong reporting structure has to be in place for any Vehicle Duty of Care Policy to succeed in your Company/Organisation.