Fitness to Drive: Important Things to Consider

Written by: Marion Hanson, Last updated:5th July 2024

Truck driver yawning while driving

Businesses with fleets have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their drivers and the public on the road. A key part of this is implementing a Fit to Drive policy. This policy outlines the criteria for determining if an employee is safe to operate a company vehicle and will also illustrate what points of contact are within the business for certain issues.

Here are some of the key elements to consider when shaping Fitness to Drive policies and guidelines for your fleet.

Medical Standards for Drivers

With fleets requiring the operation of heavy machinery in busy contexts, its essential that drivers meet a set of medical standards that ensure they are safe to drive. This includes checks on an employee’s health conditions, fatigue levels, and medication use that could impair driving ability.

Generally, these medical standards are categorised into two groups. The first, Group 1, is appropriate for holders of a standard driving license. Group 2 usually pertains to drivers of HGVs and PSVs, however, certain circumstances under which the driver will be operating might place them in Group 2 instead of Group 1.

For example, if a driver is going to operating a vehicle carrying dangerous chemicals or driving at night, this would require them to meet standards laid out in Group 2 requirements.

You can find full details of the assessment standards on the website.

Your Fit to Drive policy should make it clear what the terms of medical fitness are for drivers and should refer to relevant resources.

Licensing and Certifications

The policy should ensure drivers have the appropriate licenses for the vehicles they operate.

There are a great number of licenses drivers can hold and some require additional testing. While most vans can be driven by those holding the standard category B license, however if the vehicle a driver will be operating surpasses 3.5 tonnes when loaded the license will no longer be suitable.

Substance Abuse

Your Fit to Drive policy should reference any existing workplace drug and alcohol policies and how they apply to driving company vehicles.

Driving under the influence has serious implications for drivers, both in and out of the workplace. Effective coverage of specific substance misuse terms in a Fit to Drive policy should make it completely clear what sort of substance use counts as misuse and what is permissible, such as certain prescription medications. It should also be clear who is responsible for overseeing and ensuring compliance with these clauses.

Your policy might also set out any terms for random drug testing, or the regularity at which drivers will be reassessed.

It’s of course crucial that your business is able to enforce the policy in a way that is legally compliant, which may require having one experienced senior employee take responsibility for this process or outsourcing to external professionals.

Driver Wellness

The policy may encourage practices that promote driver well-being, like getting enough sleep and managing stress. Employers have a duty of care to staff. This means taking the necessary steps to ensure that employee health, safety and mental well-being are preserved by all means reasonably possible.

Low mental health and well-being can have serious implications for the safety of drivers and others on the roads. Comprehensive policies should outline the importance of a high level of staff mental wellbeing, who to contact with mental health concerns and the resources available to staff to help them.

Vehicle Condition

For most fleets, it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that vehicle checks are carried out and carried out to a high degree of detail. Your Fit to Drive policy might include the terms of these vehicle checks. Being in a fit state to drive might include fitness to effectively check vehicles, as failure to do so can result in accidents and injuries, for which driver and company can be liable for.

The policy may address driver’s responsibility to report vehicle defects and ensure the vehicle is roadworthy before operating it, and what factors might deem a driver unfit to carry out vehicles checks, and potentially unfit to drive.

Adapting Your Policy

The specifics of a Fit to Drive policy will vary depending on the size and industry of the business, as well as any regulations that apply. As such, Fitness to Drive policies are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and care should be taken to ensure that your fleet’s policy is built around the specific needs of your fleet and business. You should make sure that your policy includes all necessary clauses to cover the range of vehicles in your fleet, and double-check that any variation in requirements is covered for these different vehicles.

Fleet solution from Fuel Card Services

While we can’t write your Fitness to Drive policy for you, we can help make every other aspect of fleet management as streamlined as possible. Our comprehensive range of fleet tools and applications means you can create a suite of management tools, built specifically for your unique fleet.

From mileage tracking, to vehicles checks and maintenance – we provide integrated solutions you can combine alongside a leading telematics system for a paper-free, cloud-based and error-eliminating approach to your fleet management.

Get in touch with our friendly experts to find out more about the products available from Fuel Card Services and which ones are right for your fleet.