Fleet Driver Training: Concepts

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

1. Fleet Operators must now be in a position to accommodate the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, (2007) which was implemented in April 2008, after a voluntary scheme for cars and vans failed to have much impact amongst fleet operators. This legislation places a ‘duty of care’ on companies to ensure that all of their drivers have suitable work and driver related training to prevent work related deaths, whilst driving either on or off road.

2. Being a professional driver ranks as the third most dangerous job in the UK (1:8000 chance of being killed annually – 20 deaths & 250 serious injuries weekly). Employers can no longer blame their employees for their actions when away from their operating centre. This new legislation actually means that the company can face criminal charges where it has been proven that a company safety failure is the cause of a work-related death.

3. The punitive measures that can be imposed upon companies, if found guilty are that they;

  • Pay unlimited fines and in some cases – dependant upon how serious the offence committed is – have an order to close the company down.
  • Be ordered to take remedial actions within a specified time scale.
  • Be made to make public the finding of guilt and the amount of fine imposed as well as identifying the remedial action they have been ordered to take.

4. Companies can protect themselves by;

  • Providing Driver assessments to each of its drivers;
  • Providing Driver Training - on road;
  • Issue a Driver Hand book
  • Do a Driving Licence Audit annually; (minimum – 6 monthly recommended)
  • Do Vehicle Audits on a regular basis; (Daily/Weekly/Monthly)
  • Record Crash and near miss data.
  • Record Driver Penalty Points as soon as practicable after the Driver receives them;
  • Arrange Refresher Training after a collision.

5. The Act now makes it much easier to prosecute companies whose drivers commit serious driving offences which have resulted in a road death, as a result of potential gross negligence of that drivers company.

6. This Act focuses on Corporate Liability and not individual liability. Prosecutions against individuals under existing legislation (Criminal/Road Traffic/Health and Safety at Work) will still be undertaken where the individual is personally at fault.

7. Deciding who to provide training to can be a difficult decision. Research suggests that any driver who drives on company business, irrespective of whether that vehicle is a company vehicle, lease vehicle or privately owned, will need to be provided with training, if they drive for or on behalf of their employer.

8. Minimum protection can be provided by having each driver take a psychometric test as to their suitability to drive a particular vehicle. Alternatively to have an on road assessment lasting approximately 2 hours, to assess a driver’s habits and knowledge levels. Should a driver be identified as ‘at risk’ then appropriate training can be undertaken at a convenient time dependant upon the risk level, (High – Medium – Low).

9. The law requires employers and the self employed, to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety and welfare of its workforce at all times, which also includes employers not putting employees at risk by the nature of the work being undertaken.

10. The Occupational Road Risk (ORR) legislation provides powers, that should an accident occur at work in a company or privately owned vehicle being used for work purposes, and companies have not complied with the regulations they could face a hefty fine, imprisonment or both, where a charge of corporate manslaughter or corporate homicide is made as a result of a road death.

11. Companies Complying with Road Traffic law only, is insufficient as far as ORR legislation is concerned. It is not good enough just to ensure the vehicles are road worthy and legal. This is a misnomer and needs to be dispelled. Companies now are being put squarely into a position of responsibility for the actions of their employees, even though drivers themselves are responsible for how the vehicle is driven on the road, albeit the company can have a great deal of influence on what the driver does by ensuring company policies are put in place.

12. Unrealistic time scheduling and failing to maintain vehicles are issues that are often spoken about by drivers. Companies have a duty of care for scheduling that is not only realistic but also allows for appropriate rest breaks, as well as maintenance scheduling being strictly adhered to. These issues directly add to higher on-road risks. Under the ORR legislation driving for work is now covered under the Health and Safety and Welfare Act 1974.

13. Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 now includes the motor vehicle which is to be used for an employee to carry out their duties. The vehicle must be suitable for the use to which it is being put, when driven for or on behalf of the employer’s business. This includes ensuring that the driver is capable of operating the vehicle correctly whilst it is being used for work purposes.

14. Regular Risk Assessments need to be undertaken on drivers to ensure that they are still reaching the required standards of vehicle operation and knowledge for the purposes to which a vehicle is being put.

15. Costs to all UK business for Road Accidents is estimated at £1.3 billion per annum, with typical repair costs of between £250 - £4,550 per claim. The Health and Safety Executive estimate that for every £1 recovered from insurance following a crash, between £8 - £36 could be lost in uninsured costs.

16. Calculations for losses are as follows:

  • Claims administration;
  • Lost Time
  • Increased Insurance premiums
  • Work being rescheduled
  • Loss of staff time due to injuries
  • Vehicle Hire
  • Reduced Moral
  • Legal Costs
  • Stress levels increasing
  • Reduced residual vehicle values
  • Overtime/Agency cover for employee off sick
  • Loss of business
  • Investigations Costs
  • Prosecution Costs
  • Bad Publicity

17. A typical company with a turnover of £2,500,000 with a sales return of 5% and a fleet of vehicles of 10 vehicles with a typical accident rate would need to increase sales by £125,000 to be as competitive as a company with no vehicle fleet.

18. This kind of loss is possible to be reduced or saved by the introduction of a good risk management programme, which should include an appropriate Fleet Driver Development training regime. The benefits of such a regime are;

  • Improved Fuel consumption (7% possible)
  • Reduced Insurance Premiums (potential of up to 15% subject to previous claims history and size of fleet)
  • Reductions on wear and tear, typically on Clutches, brakes and tyres. (Possible reductions of 5%)
  • Residual values of vehicles are increased when driven by a trained driver (potential of up to 5%)
  • Fewer Accidents
  • Loss of Time reduced
  • Lower accident administration costs

19. Driving at work is accepted as a High Risk activity. It costs substantial amounts of money and time when things go wrong. Should a company ignore the Occupational Road Risk legislation, this could be a big gamble that would affect not only the company itself but all those employed within it. By the introduction of such measures as described above, not only will your company comply with your obligations under the regulations, but also reduce accidents, improve moral, reduce costs in many areas and have a positive effect on your bottom line.