Many of you will have seen news of the arrest of an Eddie Stobart driver on a potential charge of murder. Whilst this incident seems to be beyond a road traffic accident, it does bring to the fore the focus that organisations operating vehicle fleets should be putting on their practices and procedures.
Clearly having a driver involved in a fatal traffic collision is not something any company would want to happen. But given recent regulatory changes and the risk of imprisonment for drivers, it is something you need to be prepared for in order to protect your drivers as well as your organisation.
Police investigations following a fatal road collision will look into whether there is a serious offence of either death by dangerous or death by careless driving. They will also look at your organisation, looking at areas such as your culture in relation to driver training as well as your driving policies. This can raise questions about possibilities for health and safety offences, as well as corporate manslaughter.
Even in cases which do not involve a fatality or serious injury, recent changes to the sentencing regimes for careless driving will significantly impact HGV drivers. Following the changes, sentencing will be based on culpability and harm, with one of the factors indicating higher culpability being that the driver was driving a heavy goods vehicle.
This new criterion of culpability is a key reason why an organisation cannot look at such incidents in an isolated manner – it will not just impact the driver involved. As well as needing to take responsibility for protecting individual workers who could be at risk of receiving a custodial sentence ‘for carrying out their job’ you also need to consider your organisation and other members of your organisation who could also be implicated in criminal and regulatory procedures.
As a result, all of these areas mean organisations who run a fleet must review their procedures. Having the ability to offer drivers immediate representation if they are involved in an incident must be a consideration given the seriousness of the charges that they could be facing. Directors must also give focus to the management of Health and Safety to ensure that your practices and culture promote a safe and responsible working environment
At Anthony Jones, we work closely with DAC Beachcroft whose national motor prosecutions team can ensure drivers receive early advice from a specialist lawyer as well as police station representation. Talk to us today about your fleet insurance needs on 020 8290 9099.