Employee Driver SafetyIn the year ending September 2015 in the United Kingdom there were 1,780 road deaths and almost 22,000 serious injuries as a result of road traffic accidents. Less serious injuries to another 167,000 people were also recorded as having been reported to the police.

Whilst many of those killed and injured were not at work it is estimated that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve a person driving or travelling in the course of their work. So that could be 600 friends and colleagues who die in the course of a journey for work, 7,000 seriously injured and 55,000 injured. Apart from the pain, suffering and grief that these accidents will cause, they have a very substantial impact on the costs, effectiveness and efficiency of a business.

There are sound financial reasons for directors and managers to consider the safety of their workforce when driving and travelling in the course of business. There are duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 but morality and the financial benefits from managing the risks should be the key (driver).

Employee Driver Safety Handbook

Although driving carries its own inherent risks careful planning and management can reduce the risks.  Where employees drive in the course of their work their employer should consider the potential hazards, and assess the risks faced by their employees whilst on the road. Then having considered the hazards and risks and decided how they will be managed draw up and issue a driver handbook or rulebook so that everyone knows what is expected of them. The hazards include:

  • Fatigue and tiredness caused by long driving hours or long working days.
  • Impact with other vehicles, pedestrians or property.
  • Vehicle overturning.
  • Distraction caused by a mobile telephone and satellite navigation equipment.
  • Bad posture due to an ill adjusted seat or driving position.
  • Fuel

Other matters that may need to be considered, sometimes for all journeys and sometimes for specific journeys only will include, whether:

  • The journey is necessary – could the meeting be held using video conferencing or other means of communication?
  • Weather conditions – is the weather too adverse to carry out the journey?
  • There is a safer more efficient means of transport (taxi, bus, train or plane).
  • The vehicle is suitable for the task.
  • Work schedules are realistic.
  • The driver holds the correct licence for the vehicle being driven and has received adequate training.
  • Sufficient time has been allowed for the journey.
  • The journey and the other planned activities can be completed in one working day.
  • An overnight stay should be taken.
  • The vehicle has been properly serviced and is in good order.

Employer Liabilities

As an employer it is important to remember that you can be liable for road traffic accidents committed by an employee, in a company vehicle or their own, where they have facilitated an offence.  What this means is that if an employer requires, allows or encourages for example the use of a defective or overloaded vehicle, an unlicensed driver or long working days they can be found guilty of an offence.

Verify Driver Qualifications

Take care to check that all staff that drive vehicles or ride motorcycles or bicycles as part of their duties are suitably qualified, with the correct licence for the type of vehicle being used. Keep copies of licences (and CPC cards where required) on file. Check regularly to ensure they are still legally permitted to drive the vehicle. Require employees to report any changes in the validity of their licence regarding penalty points and disqualification to their Manager who should check that insurance cover is not compromised.

You are entitled to rely on the valid licence as evidence that the driver has been trained and tested as competent to drive that class of vehicle and fully aware of the rules set out in the Highway Code. However you would question those skills and reconsider their position if they were often involved in incidents or cause damage to vehicles and property.

Verify Insurances

Vehicles used for company business, whether company or privately owned, should be insured for business use and be properly maintained. For private vehicles used on company business check, on a regular basis (at least once every year) that the correct insurance cover is in place and the MOT test, if required, is up to date.

Driver Safety Tips

Journeys should be planned in advance, using the most appropriate roads for the vehicle. Motorways are suitable for all vehicles being driven by a person who holds a full licence for the type of vehicle being driven; minor roads may be unsuitable for large goods vehicles and passenger service vehicles due to weight restrictions, low bridges, level crossings and narrow carriageways. For long journeys allow extra time for drivers to take rest breaks as in the Highway Code.

Where workers are required to travel to carry out work at one or more places before returning home at the end of the day employers must ensure that the combined driving hours and job related working hours do not require excessive working hours. In the event of an accident the employer could be held liable for injuries caused as a result of excessive working hours.

Employee Driver Safety Summary

All in all there’s a lot to be considered in this brief article we haven’t even touched on driver’s hours for LGVs and PSVs, the times of day when accidents are more likely to happen, speed limits, mobile phones and hand held devices, daily vehicle checks, accident investigation, advanced driver training, defensive driving training, etc.

Peninsula’s members have not only access to advice and information on this subject but also the benefit of routine visits from their Business Safety Consultant who will help prepare a bespoke Driver handbook and guide them along the way with sensible pragmatic advice. They will also have access to a 24 Hour Telephone Advice Service where trained, qualified and competent staff are ready to take their calls.

For further information please contact Nick Babington on 07896 036993