Driver License Control Software

Desktop and mobile screens showing the Driver License Control Software
Car owner's liability

Fleet managers live dangerously. Because no matter how large your fleet of vehicles is: the legal regulations that go hand in hand with the operation of a company-owned fleet remain the same.

Especially in small and medium-sized companies the vehicle fleet is often underestimated. Too often, no directly designated position has been created for fleet management, but rather the receptionist, secretary or support takes over the pending tasks that vehicle management entails.

Many fleet managers, especially those who do not perform these tasks as their main activity, are not aware of the risk of owner liability attributed to the fleet manager.

The law is clear in this respect and leaves no room for interpretation. The legal basis for this lies in § 7 of the German Road Traffic Act: "The owner of a motor vehicle or trailer is liable without fault if another person is injured or killed or a thing is damaged while operating his vehicle".

What is a vehicle owner?

According to the StVG, the German Federal Court of Justice (source: BGH NJW 1983, 1492 (1493)) has ruled that the vehicle owner is the owner of a motor vehicle who uses it for his own account and has the power of disposal necessary for its use.

Basically, this definition applies to all companies with company cars or a fleet of vehicles. In this case, according to the law, the managing directors or owners of a company are always first in charge of the fleet. The mere power of disposition is sufficient here to assume responsibility for any fault.

If managers do not or cannot fulfill their responsibilities and the associated duties, duties of ownership must be passed on.

You can use a contract to appoint a representative for the respective area of responsibility. As soon as the special representative approves the contract, he/she is now the owner of the fleet.

Driving licence checks as the most important obligation for holders

The range of tasks of the fleet manager is broad. The role covers everything from procurement, organisation and maintenance of the fleet, damage and risk management, to the coordination of contractual partners such as leasing companies and insurance companies.

Probably the most important duty of a fleet manager, however, is to check the driving licence. Because as soon as an employee without a driving licence gets behind the wheel of a company car, it is the fleet manager to whom it falls back on. He can only not be legally prosecuted if he can prove that he has properly fulfilled his duty to check his driving licences; i.e. he has regularly checked the driving licences of his employees.

Many companies try to protect themselves from this by adding clauses in the contract for employee use. Often they allow themselves to inform the employer immediately of the loss of the driving licence. However, courts have so far ruled otherwise, arguing that employees conceal the loss of their driving licence to avoid losing their job.

There is no legal definition of the regularity of these checks. However, first precedents of the courts have shown that a regular control in 6-month intervals is sufficient.

It is important here that the documentation is complete and, at best, even stored in a central, digital location. In a decentralized organization, which is coordinated across several locations, the fleet manager can entrust the driver's license check to an employee on site. Monitoring and feeding into the database must in turn be carried out by the person responsible.

The operational process of driving licence checks

In principle, checks on driving licences can be divided into two categories. On the one hand we have manual control, and on the other hand we have electronic control. In the case of a manual check, the fleet manager must have the driver's licence presented to him and then document this. Copies are often kept.

Normally, the fleet manager organizes a central appointment where all drivers can come by the site and register or have their details documented. It is important here that drivers who are not present (holiday, short-time work, assembly) do not find the time to attend this appointment. It is important to ensure that these drivers are also given the opportunity to be checked, which must also be documented afterwards. Advisable action is to take random samples to ensure that the deadlines are met.

Thanks to the ongoing digitalization, many companies have set themselves the goal of automating this process and offering a digital driver's licence check. The electronic control enables a central data collection with automated appointment reminders. Apps are also created automatically via the app and help to keep appointments with an electronic overview. Furthermore, line samples can be easily implemented by simply exporting them in csv format in order to go through appointments and appointment reminders.

Avoid negative consequences as fleet manager

The responsibility of the fleet manager is great and will be severely punished in the event of infringements. Ignorance or a half-hearted control of the driving licences does not protect against criminal prosecution because of the violation of the underlying obligation to keep the licence.

The regulation for this is written down in § 21 paragraph 1 No. 2 StVG for driving without a driving licence. Here it says clearly: With imprisonment up to one year or with fine is punished, who
(1) drives a motor vehicle although he does not have the necessary driving licence or is prohibited from driving the vehicle under Section 44 of the German Criminal Code or under Section 25 of this Act, or
(2) as the keeper of a motor vehicle, orders or permits someone to drive the vehicle who does not have the necessary driving licence or who is prohibited from driving the vehicle in accordance with section 44 of the Criminal Code or section 25 of this Act.

A decision by the Munich district court underlines the importance of this law. Here, a manager of a bakery was sentenced to a fine of over €1000 for negligently arranging to drive without a driving licence.

And yet everything could have been so simple. Fleet managers in small to medium-sized companies are usually in several places at the same time, i.e. on the one hand they are basically not trained for this job and potentially not properly instructed, and on the other hand they do not have the necessary time to take care of the tasks that arise.

In the stressful everyday life of a fleet manager, in addition to contract management, maintenance and repairs, it often happens that less important activities such as checking driving licences are left out.

An electronic driver's licence control can help here. This software serves the central administration of the vehicle file and documents, generates automatic reminders for the control and facilitates to a large extent the decentralized organization of this control.

fleetster's electronic driving licence control

With fleetster, the life of the fleet manager should be simplified. Therefore, our fleet software also takes care of the control of the driving licences. To exclude owner liability, a company must check the driving licences of all employees who drive company vehicles/pool vehicles every 6 months. Regardless of whether the keys are managed by a key manager, automatic key cabinet or keyless by telematics in the vehicle, fleetster has an option for every possibility to check the driving licences before every booking. Only when the driving licence has been presented, the key can be removed and the booking can be started.