Having read the guidance notes, completed all the relevant online forms and been granted a licence, it is imperative that all documentation is kept in a logical filing system to enable documents and information to be obtained quickly and easily.
If a DVSA officer arrives to carry out a routine visit and inspection of files, and they are not readily available, he/she will question how efficiently the vehicle fleet is managed and also question the operator's compliance.
Below is an example of efficient 'Best Practice' for keeping records/filing systems available to those who need to access them, in a fashion which embodies true professionalism.
A flow chart is a critical part of the toolkit. It should be on prominent display showing all vehicles with the following information:
- Vehicle details
- Month of MOT
- Next RFL due date
- Next Tachograph Inspection date
- PMI inspection dates
A flow chart is a schedule, it is not a rough guide.
The PMI dates on the flow chart should be adhered to rigidly. As each PMI date has been completed, it is useful to highlight each date on the chart, which will provide all relevant staff (including drivers) with confirmation that the inspection has been complied with.
It is recommended that all transport files are kept in a filing cabinet with all vehicle files in drop files in registration order, with each drop file containing the following:
- All legal documents, kept separated within each file inside an A4 wallet with documents such as MOT, Tachograph test forms, Plating certificate.
- All PMI record sheets to be kept in front of the A4 wallet in date order with the most recent in front.
- All defect records to be retained in another A4 Wallet at the rear of each drop file and in date order.
All defect sheets with recorded defects must be retained for 15 months. Nil defect reports, where no defects have been recorded, should be kept for as long as they prove useful. This generally means retaining them until the next nil report is produced or until the vehicle’s next safety inspection (recommended).
- The remainder of each vehicle drop file should be made up of supplier’s data, such as; windscreen, tyre, recovery, warranty and other relevant paperwork for each vehicle, also filed in date order. If each item is placed between the relevant PMI records in date order, this effectively gives an audit trail of the vehicle.
Alternatively, a lever arch file for each vehicle is also a sensible method of storage, separating all legal documents from general documentation, and keeping everything in date order.
Remember, that if you retain all your vehicle fleets' PMI records from the date you acquired the vehicle, when visited by an enforcement officer from the DVSA, every PMI record they find will be the subject of scrutiny despite the fact that it is only required to retain these records for 15 months. If all PMI records are retained for each vehicle, it is advisable to remove every record later than 15 months of age and archive them elsewhere.
It is also imperative to maintain personnel files as stringently as any HR department. This will effectively mean retaining every item of information from the day the driver joins the business, including copies of his/her application form, induction form, training records and disciplinary paperwork etc.
It is recommended that all driver files are kept in either the same filing cabinet with the vehicle files in a separate drawer or in drop files in alphabetical order if only running a small fleet of say 10 to 12 vehicles. If the fleet is larger, then it is preferable to keep driver files in a separate 4 drawer filing cabinet.
Similarly to the vehicle file system, an A4 Wallet can be used to retain all the driver's personal details, such as application, induction and training records, disciplinary documentation and specific letters to the driver in question.
Remember, holding any personal data on a driver requires maintaining stringent security measures. It is advisable to keep all Driver Files under 'Lock and Key' in an office. If at any time there is a requirement to discard any of a driver’s personal information, it should be shredded.
Throughout a driver's working life, he/she will use a driver smart card to drive a company vehicle. This card, along with the VU will be downloaded and the data submitted to the analysis company contracted to produce the required reports, such as the driver's infringement report, missing mileage (unaccounted distance) report and overspeeding report. With the exception of the missing mileage and overspeeding reports, which should be filed separately, each driver's infringement report will have been discussed with the driver.
Each infringement report is specific to the individual driver and, regardless of action taken, should be filed in that specific driver's drop file. Again, it is advisable to use an A4 Wallet to store the data in date order.
All driver files should be retained for a minimum of 15 months with information pertaining to each drivers WTD retained for no less than 2 years.
If there is a problem with any of the paperwork it is advisable to make a note and ensure the note is placed in the appropriate vehicle/driver file. Examples of operational factors that may require this are as follows:
- PMI late due to VOR as a result of accident damage.
- Vehicle recovered to suppliers for lengthy warranty work. It may be in an instance such as this, where it has been arranged for the supplying dealer to carry out a PMI that falls due whilst the vehicle is away from its home base. In this case ensure the PMI sheet is returned with the vehicle, and note the dates and mileages the vehicle was away and that the PMI was completed by an outside dealer and the reason.
If vehicles are due a PMI 8 weekly, but (for whatever reason) a PMI on a vehicle is missed and is completed a week late, the schedule must be put back on track to the next official date. DVSA officers are aware that these things happen but will want to see that it has been picked up and rectified.
Once again, put a note on file explaining the situation, but ensure this does not become a regular occurrance
There can be no doubt that having an ordered and tidy filing system will pay dividends in the long run as documents are easier to find. Most importantly if there is a visit from a DVSA officer, he/she will view the operator and the manner in which the operation is run by the efficient manner in which records can be retrieved and are maintained.