Operators are saving thousands of pounds a year by joining the DVSA Earned Recognition (ER) scheme, according to Phil Breen, DVSA ER national account manager.

Speaking to delegates at the virtual Commercial Motor Show 2020, Breen demonstrated how drastic reductions in roadside stops and related rectification and loss-of-use costs had saved one member £8,750 over two years, whilst another larger operator in the scheme had saved £12,000 in just one year.

Breen said another key benefit is the exclusive, direct line members have into the DVSA ER team, which he said proved particularly useful during the pandemic lockdown. “It has been an absolute godsend to members - with all the legislative changes and new rules that came in with lockdown, they could pick up the phone or email and know we would get back to them straight way,” he said.

Other benefits of the scheme, which is free of charge, include fewer road side stops, exclusive networking opportunities at DVSA events, efficiency savings from using the digital monitoring system and greater bidding opportunities for major contracts such as HS2.

Breen urged hauliers to join the scheme to help drive cowboy operators off the road. He said: “For every operator we stop that could be an ER operator but chooses not to be, what are we not doing? Well, DVSA is not stopping that rogue operator that could go down the road and lose a wheel or a tyre, we are not stopping the operator who is going to undercut you when the next contract comes out, we are not stopping operators using dodgy drivers who put your drivers and everyone else on the road at risk.”

Marc Caplin, compliance advisor of Aquarius IT, looked at how operators can improve their KPIs on the scheme.

Talking delegates through a drivers’ hours KPI dashboard, he said: “As a software provider we have noticed that quite a few operators – both those on the scheme and those wanting to get on the scheme - have trouble with gaps in their tacograph trace.

“These gaps may be just one or two minutes but DVSA expects the driver to fill these in manually. So make sure your drivers are properly trained to do those manual entries,” he advised.

Meeting working time KPIs can be another stumbling block, Caplin said. “We find drivers take a tachograph break midday then lose sight of their working time in that afternoon slot - a lot of working time infringements are at the back end of a shift – the driving time is fine but the actual shift time has put them over the Working Time Directive six hour rule,” he explained.

Lesley O’Brien, partner at Freightlink Europe, one of the first companies to gain ER accreditation, spoke of how she overcame her reluctance to join the scheme - a move she had considered akin to “sleeping with the enemy” following a series of incidents a few years ago involving DVSA enforcement officers.

However, since joining, O’Brien said she now sees DVSA as an important ally, adding that the scheme had also significantly increased staff engagement.

“ER is not something managers do - it needs collaboration - it is a team effort,” she said, adding: “It’s really improved staff engagement. Getting ER isn’t about a few managers doing a few risk assessments and then putting it on the shelf - this is a living document, a way of life and it brings people together to work as a team.

“Working with DVSA is no longer getting into bed with the enemy. They are part of my support network - they are now our phone-a-friend.”

  • All the presentations were recorded and will be available to watch again until the end of October. Log in to the Commercial Motor Show website and click on Conference to replay all three days' sessions.