Finding an unwelcome letter on the doormat instructing you to pay a fine or accept penalty points on your licence is never the best start to the day. But what happens when one of your drivers commits a motoring misdemeanour whilst driving a company car or van?

Fleet vehicles remain registered to the fleet provider, no matter who is driving. Therefore any fines or notices of convictions will first be directed to your fleet provider, who will then pass them on to the Fleet Manager.

It's useful to have guidelines in place as to what to do in the event of a fine being received. Driving convictions should be attributed to the staff member driving the vehicle at that time, with any speeding awareness courses, fines and/ or penalty points directed to the driver, just as they would with a personal car.

Many fines can be avoided with the help of team member training. We look at the five top fines received by fleet drivers and how to best manage the issue.

1. Parking

Parking restrictions sign

There's a simple avoidance tactic to follow when it comes to parking fines; buy a parking ticket! Whether parking for an hour or a couple of minutes, drivers should always check the parking restrictions and be educated on what exactly these signs mean. Some on-road parking allows around 20 minutes free, but drivers still need to obtain a ticket from the machine to show the parking enforcers the time they arrived. Drivers should check for signage instructing the parking day and time limits, and a lack of coins needn't be an excuse with many parking meters accepting payment via text or phone.

Drivers should be encouraged to pay for as much time as they could need and this could be supported by allowing parking fees to be claimed back on expenses. Remember a £2 parking fee is a much preferable option to a £30 penalty charge for not displaying a ticket!

2. Tolls

Dartford Crossing toll bridge

Depending on where your business is based and the routes your fleet travels, you may encounter regular toll charges on roads or bridges such as the Dartford Crossing. Prices vary depending on vehicle type (even vans can be more expensive than cars) and are charged twice for travelling there and back. On some crossings there are now no toll booths and payment must be made prior to, or by midnight on the day after you cross.

Failure to pay will lead to penalty charges being issued, so check how payment can be made (online, via phone or at a payzone outlet), and it could be useful to look into setting up an account if your drivers are regular users, for monthly or annual payments which makes the process much easier for the drivers. Your fleet provider will be able to recommend the best option and set up the account for you.

3. Speeding

Speed queens take note - even when driving a company vehicle, speeding fines and penalty points will still work their way back to the individual behind the wheel! Drivers caught speeding excessively could even be banned from driving, which could cause a huge problem if you rely on them to drive as part of their role. It is useful to make drivers aware of your company's policy on driving, whether zero tolerance or otherwise.

Fleet managers should educate staff on driving safely and within the speed limits, and your fleet provider should be able to provide details of local driving safety days. Speed limiters fitted to vehicles can help prevent driving over the speed limit, and navigations systems with a speed limit facility can help to inform drivers of the speed limit wherever they travel.

4. Congestion Charge

The capital's congestion charge poses a generally unavoidable fee for travelling throughout central London. An £11.50 daily charge for driving a vehicle within the charging zone applies between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, which increases to £14 if not paid by midnight on the day following the charging day. Regular visitors to London can use the Congestion Charge Auto Pay, whereby the registered account is automatically charged once a month depending on how many times the vehicle is clocked as entering the zone. The charge can be pre-paid for a day or month up to 90 days before travel, which is useful if your company is working on contract in the city. Failing to pay results in a penalty charge of £130, discounted to £65 if paid within 14 days.

Ultra Low vehicles do not have to pay the charge, if they emit 75g/km or less of CO2. Your fleet provider will be able to offer advice on how to manage the charges.

5. Bus Lanes

Bus lanes can be tricky to understand - sometimes a bus lane pops up out of nowhere and can catch you off guard if you don't know the area. Other bus lanes are only in action on certain days of the week or at certain times of day - make drivers aware of the signs explaining the limits. Most bus lanes have cameras so drivers shouldn't be tempted to drive down an empty bus lane to beat traffic or as a sneaky short cut - fines can reach upwards of £100 depending on the county when not paid within a certain timeframe.

Fleet managers should issue guidance around the local area of bus lane restrictions and advise drivers of what to look out for when in unfamiliar cities.

For more information or guidance on how to manage driver fines and convictions within your fleet, please contact us.