The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is now currently in progress with the final pilot of its long awaited Earned Recognition Scheme. It seems that the scheme is now close to rolling out despite the delays it has suffered up until this point.

For those who are unaware of the scheme, Earned Recognition is the DVSA’s attempt to make their compliance enforcement more efficient by focusing their resources on the worst offenders and making things easier for compliant operators who can demonstrate their standards; the benefit of the scheme being that these compliant operators are monitored in a less intrusive manner. For those who are members of the scheme, there will be a large reduction in roadside checks for their vehicles and drivers.

Any operator wishing to apply must meet minimum criteria. This includes holding a licence for at least 2 years and the operator must not have had any regulatory action from the Traffic Commissioner save for a warning, within the same time period.  If multiple licences are held however, an operator must sign up in totality and include all of their licences into the scheme.

Operators will be required to go through a rigorous auditing process conducted by an accredited auditor. They will then enter into a data sharing relationship with DVSA. Operators will be required to use accredited software to upload data regarding their vehicles and drivers, demonstrating continuously that meet target key performance indicators (KPI). There are no costs to be borne by the operator in joining the scheme, other than that of the initial audit and running the software. If an application is rejected, the applicant can appeal this decision.

Once in the scheme, a further audit will then be required every 2 years to ensure that the standards required to qualify for the scheme are being maintained.

The KPIs that operators will be required to adhere include, for example, showing that they have:-

-100% compliance with inspection records

-All driver defect reports actioned properly

-No unaccounted mileages

-No most serious infringements

-Vehicle trailer inspection pass rate of 95%

-No more than a tolerance of 5% infringement for drivers’ hours compliance.

There are further KPIs related to repeated failings and sustained breaches.

Where there are failures of KPIs the DVSA has suggested that they will be open to discussions about this as opposed to immediate removal from the scheme.

Despite the scheme not being sold as a means to provide a competitive edge, it is anticipated, as with OCRS, FORS and other schemes, customers will soon become aware of Earned Recognition and this will become a prerequisite for many contracts being awarded. It could also influence insurance providers in calculating risk and the cost of policy premiums. Some operators have voiced their concerns with this questioning as to how this is materially different from OCRS and stating that whilst the DVSA maintain this is voluntary, the question if you are not signed up will be “why not?”

Other concerns voiced by those in the industry are the disproportionate effect the 95% adherence to KPIs will have on small operators and fleets where small breaches may amount to a larger percentage of the overall figures and in the reverse argue that it allows too much discretion for operators of much larger fleets who could absorb much greater levels of KPI breaches.

There are also concerns from operators about sharing the required level of information with the DVSA stating that the agency needs to build up their trust, however the DVSA has assured operators that the information will not be used to bring prosecutions and merely flag up any issues to them that may lead to them being removed from the scheme.

It still remains unclear as to what proportion of the industry will take the scheme up, as disappointingly there is very low level participation in the pilot. Clearly if there was wide scale take-up, the agency will be required to dedicate adequate resources to the applications process and assess resources for the long term. Whilst there is an initial reluctance to join, many operators accept that it will be a necessary requirement to remain a competitive force in the marketplace.

If you would like any details on how to apply for Earned Recognition or any issue relating to Operator Licence compliance, call our expert team today on 0115 910 6239