A Full Guide to DVSA Earned Recognition and How You Can Join the Scheme

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Updated 10/07/2023

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) earned recognition scheme was launched in 2018 as a way for transport operators to maintain compliance and be rewarded with fewer roadside inspections. Becoming a DVSA accredited operator means that you can boast your status to potential clients on contracts, highlighting your dedication to road safety and vehicle management. However, there are a few steps you need to take before you can become fully accredited.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what DVSA earned recognition is, who it concerns and the various benefits that come with the scheme. We will also discuss the fines and penalties that can still be acquired as an earned recognition scheme member, and how you can prepare for an essential DVSA audit of your business.

What is DVSA Earned Recognition?

Earned recognition is a voluntary scheme that businesses with HGVs and PSVs can join to show they meet DVSA compliance and road safety standards. Data must be submitted to the DVSA, such as daily walkaround checks, driver hours, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Operators on the scheme, whether they operate HGVs, PSVs, or both, must meet the required standards regularly in order to retain their earned recognition status.

To qualify for earned recognition, transport operators must work with a DVSA accredited IT system provider such as AssetGo to ensure their data is submitted accurately and on time to the DVSA. They must also have certain aspects of their businesses audited before they can become an “exemplary operator.”

To join the scheme, you must also fill out a self-assessment checklist, and make sure you can mark all questions as “yes.” This checklist will ask whether the operator holds a valid licence, how long they have held it for, and whether the traffic commissioner has ever taken any action against the licence. Your application will not be accepted by the DVSA if you do not pass the self-assessment checklist, so always check before you apply.

If you have checked the self-assessment checklist, you can then apply for earned recognition. You will be asked various questions about your organisation, the IT system you use, and your audit requirements. You will also need to arrange an audit three months before or three months after your application has been sent. Once all of these steps have been completed, the DVSA will decide whether you qualify for earned recognition.

To find out more about DVSA earned recognition and the application process, please read our previous guide here.

Truck driver holding a clip board and inspecting the vehicle

Who Does DVSA Earned Recognition Concern?

Operators with a fleet of vehicles, no matter the size, with a strong record of compliance can benefit from the DVSA earned recognition scheme. Business owners and fleet managers alike should make themselves aware of what the scheme can do for their business, and operators must have had an O licence for two years or more. You can either be self-employed or operate a business with staff.

Before DVSA earned recognition can be granted, businesses must check themselves to see whether or not they meet the required standards. A DVSA accredited auditor will also check a sample of your vehicles, drivers and operating centres against PSV or HGV standards, depending on the licences you hold.

You can find out more about how the earned recognition scheme concerns you in our previous guide.

What are the Benefits of DVSA Earned Recognition?

There are various benefits that businesses can enjoy when they join the earned recognition scheme. Firstly, operators who are successful will be known as “exemplary operators” by the DVSA. This title can be used when bidding for contracts and clients, helping you stand out amongst competitors. You can also make use of the DVSA earned recognition logo, as you will be known as a DVSA accredited operator.

One of the most prominent benefits of the scheme is the lack of roadside inspections and site visits by DVSA officers. Involvement with the scheme means you routinely send data to the DVSA that proves your compliance, so officers will be less likely to stop HGV or PSV drivers on the road for a roadside check. You may also find that DVSA officers will be less likely to visit your premises for an inspection. It is also completely free to join the scheme, but there could be fees when choosing a DVSA accredited IT supplier.

Although there are many benefits, there are some terms and conditions that operators need to be aware of. Once you become accredited, you will need to have your business audited every two years, and you could be removed from the scheme if you fail to submit relevant data, or you don’t meet your KPIs.

You can find out more about the benefits of earned recognition in our previous guide here.

Truck driver with a clipboard doing his daily safety checks

Earned Recognition Fines and Fixed Penalties

Even though you are DVSA earned recognition accredited and are being stopped less frequently on the road, that does not mean you won’t still be fined or receive a fixed penalty if the DVSA deems it appropriate. If you are found speeding, exceeding vehicle weight limits or any other safety defects are found, you could still be fined and receive penalty points. Any vehicle can be stopped and fined by the DVSA.

Fines and penalties can be issued to businesses who continually fail to reach their KPI targets or submit data. Businesses who breach guidelines can be fined between £50 and £300, or receive more serious punishment depending on the severity of the offence. Businesses could have their accreditation removed if the DVSA feels it is necessary. For instance, if the operator fails to meet the performance criteria or goes bankrupt, earned recognition status may be removed.

To find out more about fines and penalties, and how you can avoid them to retain your earned recognition status, you can read our previous guide.

What are DVSA Earned Recognition Audits?

As mentioned, operators will have to undergo an audit of their business, drivers and systems before they can become DVSA earned recognition accredited. You can choose an auditor from the Government’s website, who will then visit your premises to carry out an inspection. They will compare your transport system’s processes and management against HGV or PSV audit standards (or both, if the operator holds both licences). There are also optional modules which may apply.

You should prepare for the auditors visit by gathering all the information they may need, and you are able to ask the auditor any questions you may have. There are ten sections in each of the standards that will be inspected, including the operator licences, driver management and training. If you pass, you will become a DVSA accredited operator. If you fail, you can appeal or reapply in the future once any issues have been rectified. Auditors may identify issues which can be solved within a month, and you will be given time to do so.

To find out more about DVSA earned recognition audits, you can read our previous guide on our website.

In Conclusion

DVSA earned recognition is a highly beneficial scheme to be accredited with, improving business prospects and decreasing downtime for drivers on the road. As a DVSA accredited IT systems provider, we can not only help you apply for earned recognition status, but help you retain it too. Our secure system automatically sends KPIs and other relevant data to the DVSA to help you focus on other matters within your business.

To find out more about how we can assist, you can request a free demo of our app and system on our website.

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