Your Fleet and the Law – Is your business fleet compliant?

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Advice, All Articles, Fleet Management

Just how protected from the law is your fleet of vehicles?

If your business runs a fleet of vehicles you carry a large burden of responsibility too. And yet, it never fails to surprise us how varied this depth of this understanding appears to be. So we ask the question – just how protected is your company – and you – from the law if something bad happened?

Why this is important. 

Did you know that every week in the UK, around 500 people are killed and over 5000 injured in road traffic accidents which involve somebody who is driving as part of their job?

As upsetting as those figures are, the reality is that organisations, their directors and senior managers all carry responsibility to ensure drivers are able to carry out their jobs responsibly.

What are your company obligations?

Again, many businesses realise that they have a responsibility – but it is to what extent they are responsible that often is mis-interpreted, understood or even neglected.

The duties of an organisation for management of fleet safety come under;

1. Road Traffic Acts, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, and other roads and goods vehicle legislation
2. Health and safety legislation including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

This is essentially to ensure the road worthiness of the vehicles and the necessary health and safety provisions of those the vehicles.

The key points to remember

These cover a wide range of potential issues however. But there are key points which clearly arise. Namely;

1. Whilst individual drivers clearly have a personal responsibility for their safe driving, this responsibility is shared with their employer.

2. It isn’t just their employers that organisations are responsible for – it is also the journeys undertaken by agency workers and subcontractors.

3. The risks are numerous. Alongside death and serious injury to other road users, both organisations and drivers can face fines, imprisonment, reputational damage and, where applicable, the loss of relevant licenses including for those of goods and passengers.

4. The implications for organisations, it’s directors and senior managers are quite stark. Organisations may be convicted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate
Homicide Act 2007 if a road death is associated with a gross breach of duty of care caused by senior management failure. Individual directors and senior managers also risk personal charges of gross negligence manslaughter where their gross failures have resulted in a death.*

Case Law

A company manager of haulage firm M J Graves International was given a four year prison sentence after a man was killed in a crash caused by one of his drivers.

Martin Graves was convicted of manslaughter because he failed to prevent his drivers from working excessive hours. The driver involved in the accident had worked for around 20 continuous hours prior to the crash.

What can businesses do to protect themselves and their employees?

I think it would be pretty widely accepted given the potential repercussions that it makes sense for a business to ensure anyone driving in any capacity on it’s behalf, is doing so safely. 

Actually putting this into practice is a different matter. 

More than that, it’s actually first of all understanding what all your potential risks are and where you can be compromised. 

The main categories to consider are; 

1. Vehicle suitability and roadworthiness.
2. Driver behaviour and credentials
3. Clear policy and supporting documentation that your business is completing it’s due processes, taking every step to safeguard it’s road-users. 

Managing your business fleet

So most companies may already use fleet management software. There are lots of great tools out there and we work with a partner who offers one of the leading solutions on the market – if you want to find out more about that then contact us using the form below.

However, that aside, the days of having a simple Excel spreadsheet won’t cut it. 

There are a series of questions you should be asking yourself. Things like;

  • How up-to-date is our Health & Safety policy and does it cover all that it needs to in relation to our road users?
  • How do we record that our road-users are medically fit?
  • Are our insurance policies up-to-date?
  • Are the correct licenses in place?
  • Are driver details up-to-date?
  • How can we record that each driver is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs every time they make a journey? (Particularly at this time of year)? 
  • What vehicle checks are carried out, how regularly and how are they recorded?
  • How are driver habits monitored? What actions are taken for demonstrable poor habits? 

The list is endless, but the importance of getting this right is crucial. And in a day and age where more and more data can be gathered, there is no excuse for getting this wrong anymore.  

*Taken from Barbour Environment “Managing your fleet” PDF

 

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