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  • How to conduct a driving licence check

    We often find that many fleet operations do not have a dedicated fleet manager available to carry out a thorough driving licence check. It is clearly important to validate and check your fleet driver’s background and licence, but if the person checking does not know how to check the validity of a driving licence, or know how many points can accumulate before losing a driving licence, or even which category of vehicle the driver is licenced for then there could be a problem which can ultimately impact on your fleet insurance claims.

    Driving licence check

    Use the following guide on how to conduct a driving licence check

    From June 2015 the paper counterpart driving licence was no longer issued or valid so you will now need to check the new photocard and access additional details held by the DVLA. The licence should ideally be free from endorsement codes and points and have valid driving dates and date of birth present. In the UK there is a legal minimum requirement to hold a full and valid driving licence for the correct vehicle category so this should be the main area to check.

    Driving licence check for validity

    Check the driving licence number

    To check that a driving licence is authentic you need to pay attention to the driving licence number. The driving licence number is made up in 5 parts, A,B,C,D, and E.

    A:    Mirrors the first characters of the driver’s surname. If the driver’s surname is less than 5 characters the remaining spaces will be made up using the number 9. (E.g.MAN 99).

    B:    The first and last digits of the number denotes the year of birth, the second and third numbers are month of birth. (Note; in the case of female licence holders ‘5’ is added to the second digit, this means that the second digit will be ’5’ or ‘6 ‘). The fourth and fifth digits are the day of the month of your birth.

    C:    The first two initials of your forenames. If you have only one initial then the second character will be ‘9’.

    D:    Computer check digits.

    E:    Licence number.

    Example: Sarah Morgan, born 5th July 1964 (MORGA657054SM9AJ35).

    Check the driving licence is in date

    A full driving licence will remain valid until the driver’s 70th birthday, upon which the licence will need to be renewed every three years or one-to-three years depending on medical condition. For LGV licences the driver is required to undergo a medical as part of their licence application and a further medical and application is required on their 45th birthday, upon which the licence will then need renewing every 5 years or sooner if medical conditions apply.

    Check the driving licence photograph

    A photocard licence is renewed every ten years to show a true likeness of the driver. It is important to check the photograph to ensure this belongs to the driver in question. An authentic photocard also carries the DVLA hologram across the top of it.

    Driving licence checks on vehicle category

    As mentioned earlier, it is a legal requirement to hold a full licence for the correct vehicle category. It is therefore important to run a driving licence check on the vehicle category to ensure the eligibility of the driver to drive the type(s) of vehicle expected of them for business purposes. Should a business driver not be licenced for the correct category then they will not only be driving illegally but they could also invalidate any claims that occur under the policy involving a driver without the correct licence and more often than not Insurers will consider cancelling the fleet insurance policy.

    Driving licence checks for driving minibuses

    Drivers holding a licence prior to 1st January 1997 with a normal full licence (‘A, ‘B Automatic’, ‘B’ and ‘D1 not for hire or reward’ can drive a minibus with a maximum of 16 passenger seats as long as they are at least 21 and are not driving for hire or reward. Those drivers with full normal driving licence after 1st January 1997 however are restricted to driving vehicles with up to eight passenger seats.

    Driving licence checks for towing trailers

    If an employee is required to tow a trailer for business purposes then you need to identify the vehicle and trailer combination that they are licenced to drive. The driving licence will state the maximum authorised mass (MAM). Essentially drivers with a full car licence prior to 1st January 1997 are entitled to drive a trailer up to 8.25 tonnes MAM or minibus towing 750 kg MAM. Those with licences after this date are restricted to vehicle/trailer combinations of up to 3.5 tonnes MAM.

    Best practice in the fleet industry would of course require that a driver is provided with appropriate training before driving either a minibus or trailer for business purposes.

    Driving licence checks on endorsements and points

    During a driver’s lifetime they could amass a different number of driving offenses each with a fixed fine and points added to their licence. Once a driver reaches 12 points the licence is normally withdrawn and a driving ban imposed. Most offenses remain on a licence for at least four years, however only remain valid for three years, but there are of course other more serious offenses that acquire higher points.

    As a fleet operation it will be important to understand which if any endorsements are on a driver’s licence to gain a clearer picture of their driving behaviour. You can do so by going to the DVLAs website you check someone’s driving licence details if the driver either shares their details with you or they can equally provide a ‘check code’ which you can use yourself online to gain access, but the code needs to be used within 21 days of generation.

    Driving licence checks on conditions the driver must meet to drive

    On the back of the photocard there may also be codes identifying specific conditions that the driver must meet in order to be eligible to drive. Such driving licence codes may include examples such as 01 for eyesight correction or 111 if they are limited to driving a 16 passenger seated vehicle. It is important to check this area to ensure that the driver is complying with these requirements.

    Finally, a driving licence check and record should be carried out for each employee that undertakes regular driving for business purposes on an annual basis for best practice and to ensure that all endorsements are up-to-date. The DVLA can also provide on request a one-to-three year mandate system allowing unlimited access to the employees driving records within this period, or other services can be employed to run these checks on your behalf.

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