4th December 2008


 Issue No.  2008/23




Winter is upon us and this usually heralds periods of greater hazards for drivers – longer hours of darkness, sleet, ice and snow, fog etc.  We therefore felt it appropriate to do a round up on driving.
The cars, vans or trucks that are often taken for granted are without doubt essential and expensive tools within business.  Correct use by drivers and provision by employers of suitable and adequate rules, procedures and assessments etc are essential given the current legal position.
Employers must look at both Employment and Health and Safety matters to fully address this area in their business.
Why is it Important?
The reasons are numerous and varied and we have previously provided information through this update (see below for references) but in summary:
Legal Compliance
  • Road Traffic and Heavy Goods Vehicle legislation
  • Laws prohibiting use of hand held phones
  • General duty of care under HASAWA 1974
  • Requirement to have a suitable and sufficient Risk Assessment in place
  • Requirement to have suitable arrangements in place for managing driving as a work activity
See also past articles ‘LIABILITY FOR DRIVERS – 2008/01’ and ‘MOBILE PHONES AND DRIVING – 2008/02’ both from January 2008.
Additionally new Road Safety Act legislation introduced in August 2008 means that any driver who has an accident that results in a death because they are distracted by an avoidable activity could face up to 5 years in prison.  The definition of avoidable activity is very wide and can include hand held use of a phone (calls, texts etc), drinking, eating, adjusting Sat Nav, turning to talk to passengers, applying make-up, fiddling with radio/CD player, reading a map etc.
Responding to Case Law
Employers can be found liable for driving accidents.  See our article ‘TIME BEHIND THE WHEEL – 2007/23’ from September 2007.
Having a Safe System of Work
A straight forward Driving Policy and reasonable work arrangements and expectations will be vital if employers are to be able to rebut accusations and claims from drivers, enforcing authorities or insurance companies.  In particular, employers should not impose workloads that force drivers to rush between appointments or drops, make business calls whilst driving or drive when tired.
Rules for use of vehicles within the Terms and Conditions of Employment / Employee Handbook will also serve to put controls in place.  Properly drafted, these will protect employers and employees.
Sitting Comfortably
And whilst not wishing to sound like “Listen with Mother”, picking up on the ‘are you sitting comfortably’ theme above, vehicle seating is also an important factor.  Employees’ physical stature, back injury history, amount of time behind the wheel etc are all important factors and must be taken into consideration when allocating vehicles from ‘the fleet’.  Some flexibility within your policy to vary the make and model of cars issues will therefore be necessary.
Preventing Harm
All the above is focused on preventing accidents.  With a third of road accident deaths believed to occur when driving on company business, it is an important area to address.
All our previous updates are available here.
If you have any queries on any of the above then please contact us on 08456 446 006 or email info@sentientuk.co.uk.




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The advice and comment in this update is not meant to be an authoritative statement of law. The articles and summaries should not be applied to any specific set of facts and circumstances without seeking further advice. Whilst every care is taken to ensure that the content is correct Sentient cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of statements made nor the result of any actions taken by individuals after reading such.

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