Duty of Care

Duty of care prosecutions for at work drivers involved in vehicle collisions will increase substantially as a result of the new Bill.

Furthermore, the police will now record in all accident reports if the crash involved an at work driver. This will allow an accurate picture to be built up of the number of work-related road accidents. Many experts feel at work drivers represent the biggest risk on the roads today and that proper attention should be paid to the Health and Safety at Work Act Approved Code of Practice on driving at work.

Exercising Proper Control Fleet vehicle sales continue to rise and consistently account for over 50% of total new car sales. Commercial vehicle sales, including vans, are the best they have been for 25 years!

With more cars, vans and trucks on the roads comes an increasing need for companies to exercise proper duty of care towards their at work employees.

As mentioned, directors could face manslaughter charges if deaths occur involving the use of vehicles not fit for the purpose or poorly maintained or not insured for business use. Such deaths would be deemed to be caused by managements lack of duty of care, due to a failure to establish proper controls. In such instances, company disclaimers may not be sufficient to protect company directors if they do not exercise the right level of duty of care.

Many companies still do not have the right controls in place to ensure that vehicles are being properly maintained and insured, have a valid MOT certificate if required and are suitable for the purpose intended.

Survey results can be revealing. For example, in one survey, a quarter of fleet drivers did not check their vehicles or were not even aware that they should. In another, only a third of fleets imposed some form of penalty following an accident or fine and only an eighth introduced some form of driver training following an accident.

The Right Vehicle for the Job Duty of care can even be exercised at the time a new vehicle order is placed. Companies should make sure the new vehicle ordered is the right one for the job. For example, a hatchback or estate with the luggage platform at the right height would be the most appropriate for a sales representative regularly lifting loads. A sales representative off sick with a bad back is not what the employee or the company wants.

Vehicle specification could also be a determining factor in duty of care. By spending more on sensible options, companies can clearly demonstrate their duty of care. Many manufacturers offer power steering, ABS and driver/passenger airbags as standard but if not companies should specify them. Basic safety equipment should be on any companys checklist as being essential in meeting its duty of care responsibilities. And drivers need to know how to use the equipment.

Besides basic safety equipment, consideration should be given to front fog lights, heated front windscreens, steering column audio controls and wide-angle heated mirrors. For driver comfort, the checklist should include height-adjustable seating, a height adjustable steering wheel and, possibly, even air conditioning.