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Volunteer Drivers

Volunteer Drivers

Hi, I wondered if I could seek your advice/thoughts on training for volunteer drivers and safety checks. I have recently had a complaint about the standard of driving of one of our volunteers. The drivers use their own vehicles. We have decided to request the volunteer to undertake a drive-check, carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). This is not a test or an assessment, merely observed driving with a report to the driver on safety. We need to show we have carried out a risk assessment on this driver and this seemed an ideal way. I have been out with the driver myself and felt comfortable, but I am not qualified, besides being a driver myself, to make a judgment on safe driving (I could be an appalling driver, who knows!)

I wondered if anyone else carries out driving assessments on new drivers or just if a concern is raised? This has also now raised the issue of roadworthiness of the drivers own cars and whether we should make it part of our policy that in order to become a volunteer with us the drivers have to agree to have their cars serviced regularly. We could pay for the service for those drivers who do a lot of mileage during the course of their volunteering. At the moment new drivers sign an agreement stating that their car is in a roadworthy condition and they agree to keep it roadworthy. I also see all documents relating to their vehicle and this is checked annually.

Just curious what other good practice there is out there and whether we can apply it. I would like to strike a balance over safety and risk without setting up to many barriers (or perceived barriers) for the volunteers.

When I was a VC Manager we ran a very active transport scheme and this was something we debated at one time and felt it would be a difficult thing to do.

We didn’t actually require volunteer drivers to be ‘tested’, either no driver underwent one or they all did. We run information / safety sessions provided by the Council’s Road Safety dept. We called it ‘Mature Drivers Seminar/ workshop’ or something like it and we also did one for women drivers only. The safety aspects of driving in varying conditions and analyses of accidents made road safety come to the fore.

The trainers also provided an eye test which showed up people who needed referral to their optician.

In addition we required all drivers to have comprehensive insurance – and you may need to specify business use- and we did an annual check on their licence (for any points appearing) ensuring that they had a valid British driving licence, their current insurance and MOT (if applicable) and there were no exceptions.

To try and do as much as we could we had them fill out a monthly expenses form, every one of which had the words: “I confirm that the vehicle used is covered by the recommended level of insurance, has current road tax, a valid MOT certificate (if applicable) and is in a road worthy condition. I have not received any recommendation not to drive for any medical or health reason.”

As the volunteer driver filled the form in and signed it each month we went as far as we felt we could without resorting to an actual driving test. In our volunteer policy we did refer to things like seatbelts; mobile telephones; appropriate behaviour; not drinking and driving etc.

RoSPA do a very useful general information leaflet for volunteer drivers too.