COMPANIES are being warned that drivers they employ may not be familiar with UK driving laws after new figures revealed that foreign drivers can swap their driving licences for UK equivalents without having to pass a driving test in this country.
Licence Check said companies need to be aware that this reciprocal arrangement could leave them exposed under duty of care regulations, after figures obtained under freedom of information law show that rising numbers of foreign motorists are using a legal loophole to get a British licence without taking a driving test in the UK.
The number of non-British drivers trading in their licence for a UK one has risen by 79% in a decade.
Last year more than 150,000 drivers who took their test outside Britain obtained a UK licence under an exchange deal operated by the government.
Britain has a reciprocal deal with more than 50 countries which allows drivers to take driving tests in their own countries and then swap their licence for a UK one when they become British residents.
However, some foreign motorists may have passed their driving licence tests in just six days in their country of origin, raising alarms over their ability to drive safely on UK’s roads.
The highest number of driving licence exchanges has been made by those with Romanian licences, followed by Poland, Italy and Bulgaria. However, all of these countries drive on the right, rather than on the left as we do in the UK, and often under very different driving conditions which do not mirror the increasingly congested roads we experience in this country.
According to the Freight Transport Association there is a shortage of professional drivers in this country, and it recently warned about the combined impact of an ageing professional HGV driver workforce and a lack of new entrants coming through.
Richard Brown, director of sales at Licence Check, now part of online solutions provider, Ebbon-Dacs, said: “This reciprocal arrangement could leave companies very exposed as they owe a duty of care not just to their employees, including all company drivers, but to the wider public at large.
“We are seeing growing numbers of foreign delivery and service drivers in this country. If a foreign driver working for a UK company was to cause an accident on our roads due to a lack of knowledge of our driving conditions, that could have major ramifications for the employer and could ultimately lead to prosecution.”
Brown said companies needed to carry out risk assessment of its drivers to identify those most at risk while driving for business, and if those that fell into this category included foreign-trained drivers then appropriate measures needed to be put in place.
“This could include remedial measures such as a supervised assessment and driver training,” he said.
Licence Check’s main cloud-based Driver and Vehicle Information Solution brand, DAVIS, has been designed specifically to automate and streamline driver and vehicle compliance management and address duty of care.
Within DAVIS is the Driver Risk Assessor feature which can be employed to assess all company drivers, using a mix of video, interactive and multiple-choice questions to better understand the driver’s psychology. It measures all road-risk areas, creating an occupational road risk profile for each driver that scores their personal risk factor.
DAVIS now has additional functionality within its Fleet File module that includes a new accident recording feature which will allow users to document accidents against a specific fleet vehicle and a named driver, providing greater insight into the most at-risk drivers as part of an ongoing risk management process.
The new accident management function, unveiled at the Commercial Vehicle Show, records date, time and location of the accident and provides enhanced dashboard reporting to include recent accidents and accident severity.
It also issues reminders for open accidents and outstanding issues, as well as providing an upload facility for images of vehicle damage. It also carries insurance claim details and has the ability to assign accidents to a named driver.