DVSA seeks guinea pigs for Earned Recognition

Earned Recognition was announced by the DVSA some time ago and progress has been slow. Now, it wants to hear from operators that can be part of its pilot scheme as it begins roll-out of its plans

Successful completion will remove operator from roadside enforcement

The DVSA is pushing ahead with its Earned Recognition scheme, and it is now seeking a variety of coach and bus operators – of all sizes – to participate in its six-month pilot.

There are strict criteria for entry, and taking part will not be open to everyone. Participation also comes at a cost, as the DVSA requires that the operator arranges and pays for an audit to prove that its systems are in order.

But those that are chosen for the pilot, and complete it successfully, will automatically earn a place on the Earned Recognition scheme, should it go live in the future.

And for the compliant operator, that is a prize worth having.

routeone looked at the benefits of Earned Recognition last year (Big Story, 3 August), but in a nutshell it forms part of the DVSA’s targeted enforcement strategy.

The agency will electronically harvest the operator’s data relating to a variety of compliance markers, and because it will to do that, the operator will be taken out of scope of roadside or depot enforcement activities except under exceptional circumstances.

Taking part

As the Earned Recognition scheme is designed to reward operators that observe a high level of compliance, similarly high standards are required of those wishing to take part in the pilot.

Something to note is that during the pilot, the identities of those taking part will not be known to roadside enforcement staff, and so their vehicles may still be stopped as part of DVSA’s normal activities. Likewise, participants are forbidden from publicising that they are involved.

To be eligible to take part in the pilot a number of criteria must be met. The operator must have:

  • Held an O-Licence for at least two years
  • Been subject to no regulatory action other than warnings from a Traffic Commissioner for at least two years
  • In place an electronic management system for maintenance and drivers’ hours that can track its KPIs and report exceptions automatically.
A variety of criteria must be met to become part of the pilot scheme

In relation to the third point, the operator’s IT supplier must have registered its systems with DVSA and the systems must be able to report KPIs. If the IT supplier has not registered, it must contact DVSA for details of the system specification.

Auditing yourself

Operators interested in taking part in the pilot must also meet the DVSA audit standards as a starting point.

The standards can be obtained by emailing distribution@vosa.gsi.gov.uk, and the DVSA will also send the pilot’s guidance document, its terms and conditions, and a self-assessment form at the same time.

Once the self-assessment form is complete and the DVSA confirms the operator’s eligibility, it will be sent an application form. When returned, that will be cross-checked against the enforcement history held by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, and against compliance with KPIs.

Successful applicants will then need to arrange and pay for an audit. The DVSA will supply a list of approved auditors, who will take a close look at your systems and how you manage them. A copy of the audit report will be provided to the operator by the DVSA.

The DVSA remains coy about when, and if, Earned Recognition will go live, although the latest indications are that it will be some time in 2018. If it goes ahead, operators that successfully complete the pilot will find it worthwhile and all routine enforcement activity at the roadside will cease.

There is no date yet for commencement of the pilot, and no closing date for those wishing to take part in it. DVSA officials were present at last week’s CV Show to meet operators that were keen to take part in the pilot, suggesting that full commencement remains a way off.

The good bits

Regardless of whether you are interested in taking part in the Earned Recognition pilot or not, the compliant majority of the industry should welcome its arrival as an indication that even more highly-targeted enforcement is coming.

Outgoing Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC) Beverley Bell has made no secret of her wishes to see compliance incentivised, and that is likely to remain the case under her successor Richard Turfitt.

Equally, Mrs Bell has promoted an enforcement environment that makes non-compliance financially untenable thanks to increased scrutiny and more frequent encounters with DVSA staff.

Some operators may raise an eyebrow at the prospect of the DVSA having access to their electronic compliance data, but once the scheme has been fully explained, acceptance is high.

No operator will be forced to be part of Earned Recognition, and equally for those that are involved, it doesn’t come with a lifetime membership; they can just as easily be removed as they can enrol.

But for those operators that are compliant – and that is the vast majority – being part of Earned Recognition should deliver benefits, both to your business and to your passengers, through a lack of roadside stops.

routeone comment

Earned Recognition has been long in gestation, and it will be some time yet before the scheme is up and running – that is, assuming that the DVSA goes through with it. But given the time and effort expended so far it’s inconceivable that it won’t.

Operators considering taking part in the pilot may initially be put off by the prospect of having to pay for an audit while not being guaranteed acceptance, but it will be worthwhile to look further than that.

Those that compete the pilot will automatically be enrolled in Earned Recognition if it goes live, and that will take their vehicles out of scope of roadside enforcement barring under exceptional circumstances. That alone should be worth the investment.

Read the DVSA’s blog at movingon.blog.gov.uk