Legislation affecting you

There are at least 25 separate pieces of legislation which impact on the safe management and driving of employees while at work.

The legislation ranges from road traffic laws such as the Road Traffic and Road Safety Acts and the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use Regulations) to the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and more recently the Working Time Directive, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act and the Health and Safety (Offences) Act.

Apart from the police, which typically will investigate road crashes, prosecutions for breaches of laws and regulations could also be bought by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, which will usually confine enforcement action to incidents where the police or VOSA have identified that serious management failures have been a significant contributory factor in the incident.

In the UK there are an estimated up to 200 road deaths and serious injuries a week resulting from crashes involving at work drivers, and more employees are killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads while driving on behalf of their employer than in any other work-related activity (1).

In addition to legal compliance, however, businesses have a moral duty to ensure the health and safety of all employees while at work, while the financial argument too highlights that investment in road safety delivers multiple wins (4).

Additionally, media coverage resulting from a work-related road crash could prove disastrous for an organisation and its future trading with brand value damaged.

Finally, depending on the seriousness of the offence and the law(s) under which employees, managers, directors and the company could face prosecution punishments could range from fines and penalty points for drivers for breaches of road traffic law to fines running into thousands of pounds and jail terms for managers and directors and multi-million pound fines for businesses.

The issue

In the event of a serious or fatal road traffic accident involving a company employee driving on business, police investigations will focus on numerous issues including demands placed on the employee by management, vehicle maintenance levels, reasons for the journey and they will also look to identify ‘serious management failures’ that may have contributed to the incident.

Investigations will essentially focus on the driver, the vehicle and the journey. According to David Faithful, solicitor and legal adviser to RoadSafe, a leading forum for promoting and devising solutions to road safety problems: “Those investigating a road crash will aim to identify who is responsible for managing occupational road risk. Where no evidence of an organisation planning, delivering, monitoring and reviewing road safety can be found charges could result.

"Businesses must be able to demonstrate how they manage road risk and that someone is responsible for managing that risk. But bosses cannot simply delegate the management of that risk and expect no comeback if things go wrong. Fleet managers must be given the support, the tools and the authority to be able to manage the risk effectively."

Additionally, the law does not differentiate between an employees driving a company provided car or van on business of their own. Therefore, occupational road risk management policies and procedures should cover both fleet vehicles and privately-owned vehicles driven on business trips - the so-called ‘grey’ fleet.

The Health and Safety Executive’s ‘Driving at Work: Managing work-related road safety’ document is established as the benchmark for occupational road risk management best practice guidance and asks: "Do you have adequate systems to allow you to manage work-related road safety effectively? You need to consider what steps you should take to ensure that your employees use the road as safely as possible." (4).

The document adds: "Do you monitor performance to ensure that your work-related road safety policy is effective? Do you collect sufficient information to allow you to make informed decisions about the effectiveness of existing policy and the need for changes?"

How ProFleet2 can help

ProFleet2 provides an auditable management of occupational road risk thus helping to reduce the risk of prosecution.

Whilst standard reporting is limited exclusively for driver-access only, as part of an organisation’s occupational road risk strategy, through a ‘Fleet Manager view’, authorised fleet managers and HR department staff, can access a wide range of management reports to see how vehicles are being driven.

With information available on drivers’ hours, journey times, mileage patterns, speed, braking and acceleration details, the available data gives access to unique duty of care indicators (DCI’s) thus enabling fleets to manage their key health and safety issues more effectively.

Fleet managers can then use the information to introduce a range of solutions to reduce occupational road risk exposure and, simultaneously, improve the safety of their employees such as driver training, encouraging staff to take a break from driving every two hours and realigning work schedules to reduce a culture of long hours that may have built up over the years.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that when drivers know that they are being monitored their performance behind the wheel improves automatically.

Meanwhile, the telematics system enables businesses to prove that they are managing road risk as demanded by the law.

ProFleet2 delivers

  • Improved legislative compliance
  • Improved risk management
  • Reduced risk of prosecution
  • Reduced risk of accidents
  • Improved ownership of corporate social responsibility issues

Information sources

  1. Driving for Better Business campaign, http://www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com
  2. RoSPA, http://www.rospa.com/RoadSafety/Default.aspx
  3. Department for Transport, http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents
  4. ‘Driving at Work: Managing work-related road safety’, http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg382.pdf
  5. Occupational Road Safety Alliance, http://www.orsa.org.uk/guidance/fa