Fit to drive
The risks of failing to report medical conditions to the driver and vehicle licensing agency (DVLA)
There are almost 16 million employees currently recorded as driving in the UK as part of their daily work routine. Professional drivers such as HGV/Bus and coach drivers account for over 750,0001; company car drivers for 960,0002 and grey fleet drivers for 14 million3.
Given the scale of this ‘mobile workforce’ it is no surprise that one in three (31 percent) fatal collisions and one in four (26 percent) serious injury collisions involve someone driving for work. However, these figures likely fall short of the actual numbers as ‘journey purpose’ is not always recorded by the police at a collision scene. Also, unlike other work-related incidents, deaths and injuries caused while driving for work are not reported to the UK’s Health & Safety Executive4.
Failure to report
The health and well-being of the driver can majorly influence driver performance. Drivers are required to notify the DVLA of any medical condition that might impair their performance – failure to do so invalidates all motor policies.
In 2015, 64 drivers in the UK were prosecuted for failing to disclose a medical condition to the DVLA; while in 2016, it was estimated 10 percent of all drivers were driving with a reportable medical condition and at least 25 percent were driving with some form of medical condition5.
“Drivers who fail to advise the DVLA of a reportable medical condition are driving with no valid insurance,” explains Andrew Drewary, road risk manager for Broadspire® UK. “This may be through ignorance on the part of the employee and employer, or because the employer does not have a proactive health and well-being policy which is managed and implemented robustly.
“If an employee has a medical condition recorded on their GP records that is potentially reportable to DVLA,” he continues “an employer needs to know about it. Unfortunately, ignorance is no defense and failure to notify an insurer of such medical conditions is treated as ‘failure to disclose a material fact’.”
A responsible employer
This raises two critical questions for employers. Firstly, how well do you know those employees who drive as part of their daily work routine? Secondly, how many are potentially driving illegally?
“If you don’t know the answers,” Drewary warns, “then you are exposed to prosecution and potentially massive insurance claims, particularly given the changes introduced by the Ogden Ruling in 2017. However, insurers are approaching this objectively and are looking at ways to not indemnify following incidents where it transpires an employee’s health has been directly related to the cause of a fatal or catastrophic collision.
“At Broadspire, we work with a broad range of fleet operators, both through our Rehabilitation and Fleet Risk Consultancy teams,” he explains, “and are able to help them proactively manage employee driver health and well-being as well as reducing their exposure to risk. A key part of this is looking at ways to transform the culture of the organization through better engagement, education and re-education.
“By working with staff to instill a greater level of safety consciousness, we aim to reduce the number of collisions, reduce the severity of those which do occur, and ensure that when they do make a claim they are not caught out by a failure to report to the DVLA.”
(1)DVLA – March 2018; (2)HMRC – October 2016; (3)AA – April 2018; (4)Brake Road Safety – October 2014; (5)Direct Line – October 2016