The New Driving Penalties And Your Duty Of Care
As of 2017, harsher penalties have been introduced for those caught speeding or using their mobile phone while driving. Introduced on the 1 March, anyone caught using a mobile handset will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 and six points on their license. Plus from 24 April, drivers caught speeding will face fines of up to 150% of their weekly income, an increase from 100%.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to workers who drive as part of their role to ensure that not only do they understand the new penalties, but they also carry out any duties related to driving in a safe and careful manner. In this bulletin, Arthur J. Gallagher explain the new regulations and penalties for drivers and how your organisation can safely manage this risk.
The new penalties
Introduced this year, the new regulations are designed to curb the increasing number of driving offences occurring and are part of an extended campaign against dangerous driving.
Using mobile phones at the wheel
While it has been illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel
(including while idle with the engine on) since 2003, the increasing prevalence of mobile phones has led to the need for new measures to be introduced with increasingly more stringent penalties.
As well as the immediate penalty points and fines, new drivers will risk losing their license entirely if they incur six points within the first two years of being on the road.
Of special note is that while it is acceptable to use a hands-free kit while driving, if a driver appears distracted or has an accident while doing so they could still find themselves open to prosecution.
Tougher measures for those caught speeding have also been introduced. Split into three bands, the higher the speeding offence, the harsher the fine received. The bands:
- A - 50% of the offender’s weekly income
- B - 100% of the offender’s weekly income
- C - 150% of the offender’s weekly income
For example, a driver caught speeding at 51mph in a 30mph would receive a fine of 150% of their weekly income, as well as receiving points on their license. Drivers can also face disqualification for more severe or repeat offences. Magistrates can also choose to enforce a prison sentence if they feel this is necessary.
Duty of care to drivers
As an employer, you have duty of care to anyone who drives for work, either as part of their role or as transportation to and from meetings or offices. This duty does not just encompass company owned or hired vehicles, but also any staff who receive a vehicle allowance or use their own vehicle for business purposes.
Not only do you have a duty of care from a legal compliance perspective, you also have a social responsibility to ensure your employees reduce their driving risk. A robust risk management policy can not only reduce this risk, it can also control insurance costs and help to minimise reputational damage.
A driving conviction can not only cause problems for your brand reputation if made public, in extreme cases it can even lead to a corporate manslaughter case if it can be proven that the death was caused by the drivers negligence.
While it is not possible to monitor a driver’s behaviour at all times, you can introduce measures to help reduce the level of risk they face while on the road. The following policies offer effective means of increasing awareness around the new regulations and reinforcing what you expect from people while driving:
Management policy - Enforced by senior management, this policy uses Driving At Work (DAW) risk assessments to identify potential risk areas surrounding driver safety, vehicle safety and journey planning. It should also introduce a policy which logs and investigates every incident involving a vehicle being driven on behalf of the organisation.
Driver Safety policy - This two part policy educates employees with a handbook which outlines their individual responsibilities, the DAW policy and road safety guidance. It also regularly checks that drivers are properly licensed, appropriately trained and medically fit to drive. Please be aware that the handbook will need to be signed for it to be useful in defending the organisation or its trustees or directors against a charge of Corporate Manslaughter.
Vehicle policy - This policy ensures that all vehicles used by the organisation are fit for purpose and regularly inspected by the organisation. As above, there will need to be sign-off process for this policy to be used as part of a defence against a charge of Corporate Manslaughter being made on the organisation or its trustees or directors.
Journey Planning - Journey Planning helps to reduce unnecessary driving, encouraging other means of communication or transport where appropriate. When travel does occur, it ensures driving is carried out to a realistic timetable and includes regular breaks en route.
Mobile phone policy - Under the new Road Traffic Act, the motor insurer cannot refuse to pay a claim to a third party even if the accident involved the insured driver being on the phone illegally. This means that organisations should make it clear in their Driver Handbook, that their employees:
- Should not be using a non-hands free phone when on the road/stationary in traffic, or to implement a zero tolerance of using mobiles; and
- Speeding again should be stated as being not tolerated by the company.
Employers should provide hands-free kits or vehicles with built-in hands-free capabilities if the organisation decides to permit their use.
Effective risk management with Arthur J. Gallagher
Arthur J. Gallagher can help you to reduce driving risk by undertaking a gap analysis of your current Heath and Safety procedures, with a focus on Driving At Work risks. We can help you to create a new Driving At Work policy, Management policy or risk assessment template as well as helping you to introduce minimum standards across your organisation.