Member Advice Centre FAQs

Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions posed to our team at the Member Advice Centre.

Medical Matters

Q All our HGV drivers over 45 undergo five yearly medicals when they renew their vocational licences. However, we also operate two 7.5-tonne vehicles which are driven by pre-97 licence holders who have their C1 by acquired rights. Both these drivers are over 45 but have never had a medical, should they have done? The C1 expiry date is the same as their Category B car licence. 

A If the two drivers in question had gained their C1 entitlement through a test pass then the rules regarding medicals would apply. As the C1 entitlement your two drivers hold is classed as acquired rights it was gained through their pre-1997 car licence so the rules for car drivers and medicals apply, however a medical will be required by these drivers if they wish to retain the entitlement after the age of 70. There is still the requirement for the driver to inform DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) of any medical conditions that may affect his/her driving under the conditions of the licence whether a medical is required or not.

Light-Bulb Moment

Q One of our night drivers had a headlamp bulb fail at 2 o’clock in the morning. He called out the recovery operator to replace the bulb before he continued his journey. Surely as the bulb had just blown he could have waited until the vehicle got back to base and had it replaced by our own workshop at a vastly reduced cost?

A With regard to headlamp failure this is a mandatory lamp (Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989). The severity of the penalty issued by enforcement authorities will depend on the requirement for the compulsory use headlamps, due to daylight hours/weather conditions. At the time when the failure occurred the compulsory use of headlamps was required. If the driver had been stopped during this period by enforcement authorities, a £50 fixed penalty would have been issued and an immediate prohibition placed on vehicle.

 

Testing Times

Q We have a 26-tonne vehicle that has been off the road undergoing long-term body repairs due to accident damage. It has now been completed and is ready to go back into service. However, the annual test has expired while the vehicle was being repaired. Can we take it to the maintenance provider who will prepare it and then take it for test? The distance is approximately 10 miles which would be on the public highway.

A Under legislation the only time a vehicle with an expired test certificate can be driven on the public highway is to a prebooked test appointment (it must still be in a roadworthy condition). If you need to take it to a maintenance provider, then it will have to be recovered to the provider. Another option, as the vehicle is a 26-tonner and comes under Plating and Testing Regulations, is to use trade plates for the journey. There is a provision which exempts a vehicle from the plating and testing regulations while being driven on trade plates. If the maintenance provider has trade plates, they may be able to collect the vehicle and bring it to their workshop. Regulations regarding the use of trade plates must be fully complied with if this provision is used.

Daily walk around checks

Q Is there a legal requirement for drivers to carry out daily walk around checks? What happens if the driver doesn’t carrying out the checks or records the fact?

A There’s no specific legislation stating a driver must carry out a walk around check before driving a vehicle. However, there are offences for driving a vehicle in an unroadworthy condition.

If you’re an operator, failing to ensure walk around checks are being carried out might be deemed a contravention to your O licence declaration.

Drivers should report and record any defects or symptoms of defects identified during their walk around check using a defect report or check sheet. At a roadside check or a court hearing these reports may be used as a driver’s mitigation/defence that a defect occurred during the journey as the vehicle was in a roadworthy condition at the start of the journey.

With the introduction of graduated fixed penalties, the evidence of a walk around check by the driver may help them avoid a fixed penalty if a defect is found.

Number of charts for roadside checks

Q I know the driver has to keep 28 days of tachograph charts for roadside checks as well as the chart in the head. Does this mean they have to have their last 28 charts with them?

A No, the legal requirement is for a driver to produce at a roadside check the tachograph charts covering, a minimum of, the current day and the previous 28 calendar days.

Obviously if the driver did not drive on certain days (eg weekends and holidays) then the driver would not have charts for these days and is therefore not required to produce them.

If, however, the driver has worked a non-driving day during a driving week (eg a day working in the warehouse), then that driver would need a record of that work, usually a manual entry on a blank chart showing other work.

Queries on photocard driving licences

Q I have a driver with a photocard licence. The photo is now out of date although the driver’s licence entitlement is still in date. Can this driver still drive?

A Your driver is entitled to drive due to the entitlement still being valid. However, the driving licence is not correct because of the out of date picture. Although this is an administrative exercise, the driver can still be fined up to £1,000, so your driver should get the photo updated on the licence as soon as possible.

Other situations that can result in the driver having an incorrect licence - other than the picture being out if date - include a change of address, getting married (change of surname) and changing name by deed poll.

Recruiting good agency drivers

Q We’re expecting fluctuations in our transport business, so will be more reliant on the use of agency drivers than at present. Do you have any advice on choosing the right agencies to deal with?

A When researching agencies to use consider the cost verses the level of customer service, and how you feel about the agencies’ working practices.

To assess an agency’s working practices, investigate how the agency operates. Ask an agency ‘how’ rather than ‘if’ it regularly checks driving licences - you’re likely to get a better picture of the organisation and how robust their procedures are.

Here area few examples of the kinds of questions you may wish to ask driver agencies.

  • How do you check a driver’s identity and employment history?
  • How do you regularly check driving licences and ensure drivers are reminded of the medical/eyesight standards?
  • How do you test drivers for knowledge and competence in drivers’ hours and records rules, routine vehicle defect checks, and working time rules?
  • How do you ensure drivers are kept up to date on changing legislation?

Rules on seat belts

Q We have a mix of vehicles, but most of them have seat belts fitted. However, some of my drivers do not wear them and tell me that delivery drivers are exempt from having to. What does the law say?

A The law on anchorage points and seat belt fitment is extremely complex and the requirements differ significantly depending on the vehicle, date of first use and the seat concerned. On the other hand, the law on wearing seat belts is simple and clear. In most cases, if a seat belt is fitted, even voluntarily, it must be worn.

There are some exemptions, including using a vehicle constructed or adapted for delivery or collection of goods or mail but only when traveling no more than 50 meters between stops.

However, even where an exemption could be applied, you must also consider your position as an employer in terms of your common law duty of care to employees. So I would recommend you insist all drivers wear their seat belts at all times by way of a formal organisational policy, which should then be regularly monitored for compliance.