Smart motorways could present fleets with compliance issues state fleet driver licence and compliance specialist Licence Check.

A smart motorway is a section of a motorway that uses traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion in busier areas. Methods include using the hard shoulder as a traffic lane and variable speed limits to control traffic flow.

According to Richard Brown, Director of Sales at Licence Check, more smart motorways will mean more company car and fleet drivers could be caught out by speed limits and receive fines or points on their licence. He encourages more regular licence checks to combat this.

Brown elaborated: “Drivers could notch up sufficient penalty points for possible disqualification on just a single journey if they are not continually aware and do not observe motorway speed limits, increasing the onus on fleet managers to check their licences on a more frequent basis. Annually is no longer sufficient.”

The M1’s section between junction 23a (Nottingham/East Midlands Airport) and the approach to junctions 24 (Derby) is the latest smart motorway to open after parts of the M25 and M6.

The ATM system logs speeding vehicle’s registration numbers and uses automatic ticket generation to issue a speeding ticket.

Drivers that fail to adhere to the legally enforceable speed limits, displayed on overhead signs, can receive fines up to £2,500 based on income and up to six points on their licence. If no signs are displayed, the national speed limit applies. Vehicles traveling at speeds over 90mph could be subject to automatic disqualification.

Brown continued: “Smart motorways are the future and the means by which the authorities will regulate traffic flow - which means greater surveillance of drivers…Drivers will have to be more attentive and aware of speed limits at all times. Lapses in concentration could cost them their licence or increase their risk profile with their employer.”

To avoid costly fines and licence points, Brown believes companies should reassess how often they check licences for fleet and company car drivers. More frequent checks should be made to make sure drivers have not amassed too high levels of points or other convictions on their licences.

“We always advise our clients to look at the type of vehicle being driven and the nature of the driving,” said Brown. “For example, with vocational driving where goods or passengers are being carried, our recommendation is in line with the Traffic Commissioner’s advice, which is to check licences four times a year.

“For high mileage drivers, we would also advocate four checks per annum because they are a higher risk category of drivers. For company car drivers where driving is part of their job, we would generally recommend carrying out at least two checks a year and, for more casual users once a year. Clearly, employers at all times should consider a risk-based approach to licence checking.”

Brown added that grey fleet drivers should not be forgotten. This is especially prevalent as there are an increasing number of employees using their own cars for company business and opting for cash allowances.

“Grey fleet drivers should be checked as regularly as if they were company drivers, including confirmation that they have the correct business class insurance which is often overlooked,” he said.