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Electronic Licence Checks: Minimal Impact from New Guidance

Posted by: Fleet Licence Check - Friday, May 12, 2017

New guidance just issued by the General Medical Council should bring non-professional drivers more in line with their professional counterparts in terms of being healthy enough to drive safely. However, the guidance is not expected to impact professionals with HGV licences who are already required to undergo routine medical checks in order to keep working. The guidance also has only a minimal impact on employers who run electronic licence checks on their drivers.

The new guidance has been implemented in order to give doctors more input into decisions to get unsafe drivers off the road. Prior to the guidance, doctors could only inform the DVLA of unsafe drivers under their care after having exhausted all other options for convincing said drivers to make the disclosure themselves. Indeed, a failure to convince unsafe drivers to self-report obligated doctors to make the report for them.

Doctors now have more latitude in when and how they report unsafe drivers. The new rules still dictate that doctors make every effort to persuade unsafe drivers to self-report. However, the rules also give doctors greater discretion and wider latitude to report an unsafe driver without actually discussing safety concerns with him or her.

The rules maintain that doctors must report drivers – irrespective of any conversations with them – if they believe said drivers pose a significant risk of serious harm or death to others. The rules go on to say that "the benefits to an individual or to society of the disclosure [without consent] must outweigh both the patient’s and the public interest in keeping information confidential".

What This Means to Employers

The rules are intended to make it easier for GPs to address unsafe drivers in the most efficient manner possible. However, the rules could have ramifications for employers who may employ some workers who drive as part of their job without holding a commercial driving licence. The most concerned should be employers whose workers drive company cars as part of their daily routine.

If a GP were to report a worker as being unsafe, that worker may be too afraid to tell the employer out of fear of losing his or her job. An electronic licence check would uncover any action taken by the DVLA to get that driver off the road. This is yet another important reason to conduct electronic licence checks on a regular basis.

Sources:

Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/24/gps-can-report-unfit-drivers-without-telling-tough-new-guidance/

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