Car and trailer legislation changes

The government’s plans to help to tackle the shortage of lorry drivers by creating an extra 50,000 lorry tests by stopping car and trailer testing. 

Part of the plan is to allow all car drivers to tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500kg without the need for an additional licence when the law is changed, which is expected to receive Royal Assent this Autumn (2021)

To make more lorry tests available, DVSA will not be carrying out any car and trailer tests from 20 September.

The current licence requirements for cars towing a trailer still apply until the new legislation receives Royal Assent.

Drivers who passed their car test before 1 January 1997 can already tow a car and trailer without an additional licence.

What will change later in 2021

If you passed your car driving test from 1 January 1997, you’ll be allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM when the law changes.

DVLA will update your driving licence record to show that you’re allowed to tow trailers. You’ll get category BE added to your driving licence when you get a new photocard driving licence.

You do not need to contact DVLA for this to happen. It will be done automatically.

What you can do until the law changes

Until the law changes later in autumn 2021, you must continue to follow the current rules about what you’re allowed to tow based on when you passed your car driving test.

You can be fined up to £1,000, be banned from driving and get up to 6 penalty points on your driving licence if you tow anything heavier before the law changes.

You’re only allowed to tow anything heavier if you’re being supervised. When you’re being supervised, you must:

  • display L plates to the front of the car and the rear of the trailer
  • be accompanied by a person who’s at least 21 years old and has had category BE on their driving licence for at least 3 years

What does this mean for businesses?

This might be welcomed as good news for many, however, it must be remembered that as a business, you have a duty of care under Health and Safety legislation to ensure your staff are safe, confident and competent to use any work equipment, this will include trailers if used for work purposes. 

My advice would be to offer training to anyone who needs to tow a trailer and especially if the driver has recently acquired their full licence or has not towed before.  Most commercial vehicle training organisations will be able to offer appropriate trailer training.

Don’t forget also, make sure you have a good driver safety policy in place, one that articulates your rules for towing.

Stonegate Tooling introduce a driver risk management programme

Background

Stonegate Tooling are one of the UK’s leading suppliers of tools and materials to stone fabricators, and are known as ‘the UK’s most trusted supplier’ in the industry. They also provide expert support and advice to their clients.

Challenges Faced

Stonegate are a growing company with an expanding team whose staff use company vehicles as well as their own to visit client sites.

Requirement

Stonegate wanted to ensure that as employers they were fully up to speed with health and safety legislation and as a responsible employer, they were doing all they could to protect their staff and keep them safe on the roads.

How We Helped

Adrian Hide Consultancy was brought in to assess what measures were already in place and carry out a full risk assessment to help ensure driver safety. Adrian also developed a fleet safety policy and is working with Stonegate to look at delivering an on-line driver safety course for its employees.

After the completion of the project, Stonegate commented: “We would have been lost without Adrian’s expertise. He’s really easy to work with and his knowledge is invaluable. We really liked the emphasis on risk management and the structure. It’s early days but so far staff have given us great feedback and we are now considering  working with Adrian to bring in driver safety training for our staff.”

August Bank Holiday – Safe Driving Tips

The August bank holiday is set to be the busiest time of the year with millions setting off on a staycation. This brings a much needed break for many but sadly, for some, the journey may not end as planned. 

Here are a few simple tips on safe driving, but not just for August!

R is for reading the road. If you concentrate on the driving task, you will be in a good place to read the changing road situations, and, plane a safe route through hazards.

O is for observation. Make sure you are seeing, not just looking by having an effective scanning technique, that is to scan the road well ahead, the mid and near ground, beside and behind, not forgetting blind spots.

A is for anticipation, the key to safe driving. To help you anticipate, simply ask ‘what if’ to things you see ahead. You will naturally fill in the answers which will lead to better anticipation and a more proactive driving style.

D is for distance, that is, keeping a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead. Remember, you need a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on dry roads, but double that distance in the wet.

S is for speed. Speed limits exist for a reason and shouldn’t be ignored and remember, limits are not targets or a safe suggestion of speed, you must decide that based on the prevailing conditions.

A is for away. Put your mobile phone AWAY in the glove box or in a bag behind your seat. Glancing at it for even a split second could have distortions consequences. 

F is for fuel. Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey, if not plan your refelling stops, probably time for a comfort freak anyway. If you are driving an electric vehicle, plan recharging stops but have a plan b and c in case plan a is not possible.

E is for ‘extra’ care before setting off on a long journey. Use FLOWER as a reminder of what to check, FLOWER stands for: fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics, rubber (tyres and wipers)

T is for time. Make sure you allow plenty of time for your journey, and for each hazard you encounter, give yourself more time to deal with them by reducing speed, remember, space and time are your best friend!

Y is for yawning. Make sure you’re fully rested before getting behind the wheel especially if you are going to drive long distances. You should take 15-minute break every two hours. Falling asleep behind the wheel could have fatal consequences.

For more tips on how to keep your staff and drivers safe on the roads have a look at our website and don’t forget we also offer a full range of E-learning and face-to-face courses to help keep you and your staff as safe as possible. 

Fifteen Group to use e-learning course for all staff

Background

Fifteen Group are an award-winning telecommunication, IT and software company. Based in Stoke-on-Trent they have clients across the UK.

Challenges Faced

Staff use the company’s fleet of vans to travel to customer sites across the country. Staff also use their own vehicles for work purposes and are paid business mileage. Fifteen Group felt there was gap in training and wanted to ensure this was resolved.

Requirement

The company wanted to ensure all staff who drive for work purposes, were give the best training possible to keep them safe on the roads. 

How We Helped

Adrian Hide Consultancy was brought in to discuss the training options that were available, and the on-line safety course was chosen for its flexibility and to ensure Covid safety. All staff who drive for work have completed the course and it now forms part of the induction process for new starters.

Ian Walker is of the Company Director. He said: “As a company we take the health and safety of our employees very seriously, whether that’s on site or on the roads. A van is essentially a one- or two-ton piece of metal that could potentially be very dangerous if it’s not maintained or driven properly. As an employer we wanted to ensure all staff who drive as part of their job, whether they drive one of our vans or their own vehicle was given the best training. Adrian’s course provided that. It was interesting, informative and I know from the feedback that our staff have given that they learnt a lot and found it very useful.”

Driver risk safety policies and management with Adrian Hide Consultancy

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You don’t know what you don’t know is a phrase that gets bounded around a lot in the public sector and indeed the business world.

Its resonated loud and clear this week with us. We’ve been making calls to prospective clients about the services we offer including our on-line driver training courses and the work we do around Driver Risk Safety Policies.

Frighteningly several of the businesses we spoke to were blissfully unaware that if their staff drive as part of their role, employers have a responsibility for their safety, even if they’re driving their own vehicles.

If an employee driving for the purposes of work, makes a bad decision, say they choose to drive with bald tyres and that causes an accident, the buck won’t necessarily stop with the driver. 

Did you as an employer provide as much training as you could to make sure your staff knew and understood why it’s so important to keep their vehicles roadworthy and what else they could do to keep within the law and drive safely too?

If you have staff that drive long distances for work and are away from home for days at a time – do you have boundaries and regulations in place to help keep them safe on the roads?

If you’ve got a sales manager that covers a large area – they could be driving for miles, be behind the wheel for hours and have late finishes and early starts. They may decide that after a midnight finish, they’ll get up at 4am to beat the traffic, to travel 250 miles home to their family but if they fall asleep behind the wheel – that could be potentially fatal.

Courier drivers or those in the home delivery sector typically have tight schedules, are any of your practices putting staff at risk?  If they do, you are breaking health and safety law?

That’s where a Driver Risk Safety Policy comes in. It sets out the rules and regulations the company has in place and articulates the company’s expected standards. In that document it would outline what rest time they expect a staff member to have between business trips before they put the keys in the ignition.

Only last year one company was fined £750,000 after two of their staff died in an accident, where it was found they weren’t sufficiently rested. (https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/local-news/company-fined-750k-after-two-18248117)

Cars, lorries and vans can be lethal weapons – you don’t know, what you don’t know wouldn’t stand up in court if you find yourselves prosecuted under health and safety law.

Employers have a duty of care to protect their staff on the roads if they drive for work purposes. That means making sure staff get the right training and ensuring the right policies are in place.

If you’d like to know more about keeping staff safe on the roads, protecting you and your business, we can definitely help you with that.

Approach Dementia Support invest in driver training for their staff

Background

Approach Dementia Support offers offer community support across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to those living with dementia.

Challenges Faced

They have a number of support staff who provide one to one support for vulnerable people including those living with dementia. Their roles are vital in supporting them to get out and about, interact socially and to take service users out for walks, for food or to take part in hobbies including fishing. This service relies on support staff using their own vehicles to transport service users.

Requirement

The organisation wanted to ensure that staff were fully trained in using their own vehicles for work purposes, understood their responsibilities, and knew how to keep their vehicles roadworthy to help keep themselves and their services users safer.

How We Helped

Following a meeting with Adrian, it was agreed that all 18 support staff should attend an E-learning training course which would meet all of their requirements. All new starters will now undergo the training as part of their induction process.

Louise Eagle is the Head of Strategic Alliance at Approach Dementia Support. She said: “Adrian has helped us every step of the way, from understanding our specific needs to highlighting the best training for our staff. The training itself is fantastic and our team really enjoyed completing it as well as learning a lot in the process! It’s important for us to know that we are doing all we can to keep our staff and our service users safe when they’re on the roads and by bringing Adrian in, we feel that we are doing that.”

Phoenix Occupational Health – Driver Risk Management Case Study

Background

Phoenix Occupational Health are a Staffordshire based family firm.

They offer all aspects of occupational health services including management referrals, health checks and health promotions to organisations and businesses.

Owned and run by Lyndsey Marchant, they have a team of staff who travel to companies across the country to deliver these services.

Challenges Faced

There was an incident where a former member of staff had an accident on the way home from work, where he had hit a road sign. He wasn’t hurt but the car had been damaged and needed fixing. It only came to light because the incident had come up in conversation and not because the employee reported it.

Requirement

Phoenix were concerned that staff weren’t aware of the procedures they needed to follow if a similar incident happened again. They also wanted to ensure that as an employer they were doing all they could to keep staff safe on the roads and comply with health & safety legislation for managing driver risk in the workplace.

How We Helped

Adrian Hide Consultancy were brought in to formally introduce a driver risk management programme for Phoenix, this meant the creation of a risk assessment, driver safety policy and a driver safety handbook for all their staff. In addition, procedures were set up to ensure their staff and the vehicles they driver were safe and compliant.

As part of Phoenix’s investment in people, all staff have undertaken an online driver safety course, aimed at promoting safe and fuel-efficient driving.

David Marchant from Phoenix Occupational Health said: “Adrian has been fantastic, and it’s brought us real peace of mind. We know now we’re doing all we can to keep our staff safe when they’re driving for work purposes and every new team member will attend one of Adrian’s courses as part of their onboarding process.”

SAS Water – Driver Safety Case Study

Background

SAS Water are a Staffordshire based company who specialise in all aspects of Legionella control. Owned and run by Lizzie Ward, Lizzie has a team of eight engineers who drive company vans all over the country to client sites. 

Challenges Faced

Some of the drivers were getting poor ratings from the vehicle tracker systems fitted within in the vans and SAS Water wanted to address that so that they could make sure their drivers were driving as safely as possible.

Requirement

The company wanted to give the drivers all the tools and information they needed to keep themselves and other road users safe.

As an employer their aim was to be as proactive as possible to make sure their team had the best training possible.

How We Helped

Following a meeting with Adrian, Lizzie delivering an in-house training session with her staff, based on Adrian’s advice and knowledge but Lizzie wanted the training to be as comprehensive as possible. As a result, herself and the team of engineers also underwent Adrian’s on-line training specifically designed for van drivers.

All new starters now undergo the training as part of their induction/onboarding process.

Lizzie said: “Adrian’s training has been fantastic. He’s helped raise our employers awareness when it comes to being on the road, in terms of driving and van maintenance. As a business owner I want to know I am doing all I can to help keep my team safe and knowing that the drivers have been on Adrian’s course has given me peace of mind. It will also help us be legally compliant and supports us with our health and safety accreditation which is important.  I know myself and the team have learnt a lot and I would wholeheartedly recommenswd Adrian and his training. He’s a thoroughly lovely guy, extemelely knowledgeable and great to work with.”

Learning at Work Week, by Tamsin Parker

My relationship with driving is pretty similar to my relationship with exercise – I do it because I have to not because I have any massive desire to want to do it.

I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t a natural driver – it took me a while to click with it. In fact, I failed my first test for forgetting to put my seatbelt on I was that nervous – instant fail!

Anyway, I’ve been driving for a long time now and my parking’s still no better so when Adrian suggested I did one of his courses to mark Learning at Work Week, I thought why not?

We go back a long way – we both worked for Staffordshire County Council where Adrian led the Road Safety Team and I worked in PR. I media trained him and he took me out on a Road Safety Awareness course, for an article I was writing for a staff magazine. The long and short of it is I knew I was in safe hands.

So, I have road tested his Eco Safety course (sorry I know that’s a dreadful pun) – It’s a 90-minute virtual training session, broken down into modules so you can fit it in to your own timescale (useful when you’re juggling kids and work).

I’ve been driving since the late 90’s so I guess it becomes second nature, but you do wonder if after that amount of time you’ve picked up habits that you shouldn’t have along the way

Adrian’s course is incredibly well put together, he’s a great presenter (obviously my media training has stayed with him all these years, ha ha), there’s video commentary, exercises, as well as information and tips that are really useful. He covers off areas from driving on rural roads and motorways, to coping with hazards and something called COAST which you’ll learn about if you go on his course. If you live in Staffordshire you also get to play spot the area in some of the footage (or that could just be me.)

Who knew the speed limit for a van is different than a car or that dual carriageways aren’t determined by the number of lanes?

On a serious note – more than a quarter of accidents involve driving for work at the time of the accident. That’s scary so if you have staff that drive, this course is a no brainer.

It’s obviously designed to help you drive more safely but it also gives you tips on fuel efficiency and what employer doesn’t want to save money? I’ve challenged myself to carry out some of the suggestions to try and use less fuel!

Adrian’s clearly an expert in his field, his course is so insightful and he’s an excellent trainer but then he did start out as a driving instructor. What’s more, if you are a Staffordshire based business you would qualify for funding of 48% through the Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire Skills Hub. You might even qualify for 100% funding if you pay your business rates to a Staffordshire Local Authority other than the City of Stoke on Trent. Ask Adrian for details.

Back to me now and don’t get me wrong there are some benefits to being one of the world’s worst at parking – you always find your car straight away when you come out of Tesco (I just look for the car that’s parked the most badly) but I do wonder if I should get Adrian to give me some parking lessons. 

You’re never too old to learn – every day’s a school day, especially during Learning at Work Week.

World day for safety and health at work

We are supporting this important day by urging businesses to think about their driving for work activities – are they part of your overall health and safety management?

Could you afford to pay £750,000 in fines and costs because you’d failed to ensure the health and safety of your drivers?

That figure was the reality for one company last year, after two of their drivers were tragically killed back in 2013. The company were found guilty of health and safety breaches.

You might be under the illusion that health and safety merely relates to what you do as a company to keep your staff and customers safe on site. You’d be wrong.

If you employ more than five people and your staff drive as part of their job, it’s your job to make sure they’re as safe as they possibly can be.

Essentially that means If you drive as part of your job, your workplace becomes your vehicle, and your vehicle a piece of work equipment, and it doesn’t matter who owns it.

More than a quarter of accidents involve people who are driving as part of their employment – that’s a lot of accidents that could have potentially been prevented, with the right training.

In the absolute extreme, if you fail in your duty of care to protect your employees whilst they’re on the road, you as a business owner, or managing director, could face a corporate manslaughter charge, under health and safety legislation.

You could also face fines equating to 20% of your turnover. It doesn’t matter if your company is large or small – a fifth of your turnover is a lot. More sobering though is this thought – if one of your employees was driving for work and they were killed on the road, how would you feel if under investigation, your company hadn’t given that driver the right training to help keep them safe. Would you want that on your conscience?

If this sounds scary and you weren’t aware of your responsibilities as an employer, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published a document called ‘Driving at Work – managing work-related road safety,’ which will help. Check out the link for more information: Click Here

We’ve also developed a 60 second survey to help you determine whether you’re doing enough to manage driver safety. The simple survey only has six questions – you know you’re doing everything right if you answer yes to every single question. Conversely if you answer no to any one of them, you could be leaving your drivers and your company vulnerable. To take our survey Click Here