Driving and Vehicle Safety Training Resource

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1. Introduction

Many employees are required to drive vehicles including company owned, leased or hired vehicles. This guidance outlines responsibilities, hazards, controls and good practice related to driving and vehicles. This guidance applies to all staff who drive in relation to their work and to managers who are responsible for them.

2. Responsibilities

Companies have a responsibility to ensure that:

  • The driver can legally drive the vehicle, i.e., has a current valid driving licence and is properly insured.
  • The driver is competent at driving the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is roadworthy, i.e., has a current tax disc, current MOT (if required) and is properly maintained.
  • Reasonable steps are taken to ensure drivers do not overload vehicles or contravene weight restrictions.
  • Staff do not drive an excessive number of hours, as fatigue is linked to accident rates.

Staff have a responsibility to ensure they are driving legally. This includes:

  • Not driving under the influence of drink or drugs, including prescription medication.
  • Having a current valid driving licence and are properly insured to drive the vehicle.
  • Ensuring the vehicle is roadworthy.
  • Ensuring they are competent at driving the vehicle.
  • Ensuring they drive within the stipulated road conditions e.g., speed limits (both permanent and temporary) and weather conditions.
  • Taking reasonable steps to see the vehicle is not overloaded beyond its maximum permitted gross weight.
  • Ensuring they park legally.

3. Safe Driving Principles

  • Driving should be undertaken in a safe, lawful manner.
  • Regular breaks should be planned if driving a longer journey.
  • Mobile phones must not be used while driving.
  • If ‘hands free’ option is available this must be set up before embarking on the journey.
  • All accidents and incidents must be reported.
  • Routine safety checks must be made.
  • Enough time must be allowed for the journey, considering variables such as heavy traffic, weather conditions, road works etc.

4. Avoid Overloading

Overloading of vehicles is a serious but common occurrence and an understanding of the subject of vehicle weights is important to operators as it can affect driving licences. Drivers of vehicles that are found to be overloaded can face various penalties such as PG9 prohibition notices, having vehicles immobilised or face financial penalties up to £300 depending on the degree of overloading. The driver’s licence will be endorsed and if the offence is dealt with by a magistrates’ court the maximum fine is £5000. The operator may also be guilty of causing or permitting the offence if it cannot be shown that all reasonable steps were taken to prevent it.

Evidence shows that overloading is particularly prevalent with vans under 3.5t. This may be due to lack of awareness by the drivers of these vehicles as no qualification other than a Category B car driver’s licence is required and many offences may be committed by non-professional drivers who have hired a van for personal use. The penalties for overloading vans or cars are exactly the same as for a larger vehicle.

Employers must:

  • procure and allocate vehicles that are adequate for the weights expected to be carried
  • ensure that routes are planned that do not involve vehicles in contravening weight restrictions
  • take reasonable steps to ensure that drivers do not overload vehicles or contravene weight restrictions.

Drivers must:

  • ensure they know the maximum permitted gross weight of their vehicle
  • take all reasonable steps to see that any vehicle they drive is not overloaded beyond its maximum permitted gross weight
  • arrange the load so as not to place excessive weight on any individual axle
  • observe all weight restrictions.

5. Personal Safety on the Road

5.1. Thinking Ahead

  • Ensure vehicle maintenance checks have been undertaken regularly.
  • Ensure vehicle servicing has been undertaken regularly.
  • Petrol, oil, coolant-level and tyres should be checked, especially before a long journey.
  • Before embarking, the seat and mirrors should be correctly adjusted to suit the driver.
  • The driver should be rested and physically prepared before any long journey.
  • The driver must not embark on any journey if they feel unwell or are taking medication that could affect driving.
  • A fully charged mobile phone should be taken for emergencies.
  • Staff should be aware of the membership of any national breakdown organisation.

5.2. While Driving

  • The Roads Vehicle (Construction and Use) Amendment No 4, 2003, makes it an offence to use a hand-held telephone while driving. This also includes time spent in the car whilst it is stationary, including being stopped at a red light.
  • Mobile telephones should not be used. If it rings, it must not be answered until the vehicle is stationary and in a safe place.
  • If ‘hands free’ option is available this must be set up before embarking on the journey.
  • If there is an accident, staff should ensure safety is always prioritised. Everyone should be located to a safe place as quickly as possible and the emergency services should be called. Staff should not put themselves or others in danger.

5.3. Parking Securely

  • Where possible, vehicles should be parked overnight within company premises.
  • Doors should be locked when leaving the vehicle parked or unattended.
  • Never leave the vehicle unattended when the engine is running.
  • Valuables, such as bags or mobile phones must not be left in a parked vehicle.
  • Park in a well-lit area where there are people about, especially if the driver and passengers do not intend to return to the car until after dark or overnight.

5.4. Dangerous Situations

  • Staff should not get involved in arguments about any incidents with other parties.
  • In the event of ‘road rage’ staff should not get out of the car. Windows should be kept up and the car locked.
  • If the vehicle requires maintenance, staff should stop in a safe area as soon as possible and call for relevant assistance immediately.
  • In the event of an accident or incident involving others, staff should only help if safe to do so and by contacting the relevant emergency services. Staff must not give lifts.

5.5. Hazards and Controls

Hazards relating to driving and vehicles:

  • Vehicle breakdown.
  • Changing the wheel of a vehicle.
  • Prosecution for driving an un-roadworthy vehicle.
  • Prosecution for driving a vehicle without a current MOT certificate.
  • Penalty or prosecution for driving an overloaded vehicle.
  • Incidents involving hazardous substances e.g., petrol, oil, antifreeze.

Control measures to reduce the risks to employees:

  • Regular vehicle servicing and maintenance.
  • Ensure servicing and maintenance records are maintained.
  • Vehicle inspections are undertaken on a regular basis.  
  • All vehicles have a current MOT certificate where required.
  • The spare wheel and equipment are in a sound condition and regularly checked.
  • Staff know how to correctly jack a vehicle before carrying out any checks or maintenance to the underside of the vehicle.
  • The storage of flammable substances within the vehicle is avoided.
  • The vehicle is not overloaded and is kept within legal weight limits.

5.6. Seatbelts

The law requires adults (and children) travelling in vehicles to safely use an appropriate adult seat belt or child restraint. Only one person is allowed in each seat fitted with a seat belt.

The law requires all children travelling in vehicles to use the correct child restraint until they are either 135 cm in height or the age of 12 (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt.

It is the driver’s legal responsibility to wear their own seat belt and to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are restrained correctly in accordance with the law. It is the responsibility of passengers over 14 years to ensure they are wearing their own seat belt.

6. Licence Checks

Driving licences should be checked on a regular basis. Disqualified drivers who are involved in an accident could put the company at risk. Licence checks should confirm staff personal details, driver categories, validity periods and any endorsements or penalty points. Licences must be checked:

  • On commencement of employment.
  • Annually, if less than three penalty points.
  • Six-monthly, if between three and five penalty points.
  • Three-monthly, if six or more penalty points.

7. Insurance

Insurance will be maintained by the company for all owned, leased or short term hired vehicles. Insurance will cover all employees with a current valid driving licence, however there is a higher excess for drivers under 24 years old, drivers holding a licence for less than 12 months and drivers with any penalty points on their licence.

8. Vehicle Maintenance and Documentation

Road traffic law requires vehicles to be maintained in safe condition.  A vehicle supplied and used for work purposes is classed as a piece of work equipment under the Provision and Use of work Equipment Regulations 1998 (as amended).

It is beneficial to prevent the vehicle from becoming unsafe in the first instance by ensuring a scheme of regular inspections and maintenance checks. Drivers are responsible for the condition of their vehicles when on a public road and should carry out routine checks before commencing any journey.

9. Vehicle Breakdowns

If the vehicle breaks down, it is important to think about safety first. The following points should be considered:

  • The safety of the vehicle’s occupants.
  • Safe removal of all passengers from the vehicle and onto a pavement or verge.
  • Passengers should be kept away from the carriageway.
  • Remove the vehicle from the road if possible.
  • If on a motorway, move the vehicle onto the hard shoulder or as far left as possible.
  • Warning other road users e.g., hazard warning lights or warning triangle (if safe to use).
  • Ensure no one stands between the vehicle and oncoming traffic.
  • Wear reflective/fluorescent jacket or clothing if possible.
  • Call for appropriate help and breakdown assistance.
  • Do not cross motorway carriages for any reason.
  • Keys should not be left in the car.
  • Staff should never get into a car with a stranger or try to hitch a lift.

10. Winter Driving

Where possible, driving should not be undertaken in extreme weather conditions. If driving is necessary staff should ensure that all reasonable precautions are carried out. These include:

  • Keeping the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow.
  • Adding anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles.
  • Making sure wipers and lights are in good working order.
  • Checking tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the correct pressure.
  • Plan ahead, check weather forecasts and road conditions for the route.
  • Consider alternative routes.
  • Allow additional time for the journey.
  • Reduce speed and increase stopping distances.
  • Avoid sudden acceleration and braking.
  • Observe all road and traffic signs.

11. Parking and Road Traffic Fines

It is the employee’s responsibility for paying parking tickets and other traffic fines incurred while operating a company provided vehicle.

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