EMPLOYERS with employees who undertake a lot of driving as part of their jobs will need to take heed of some new road safety legislation expected this year.
The legislation is intended to plug an existing gap in road safety laws through the introduction of a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. The new offence will serve as a clear message to all drivers, especially those who do a lot of driving for work, that poor driving standards will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be dealt with very firmly by the courts.
The offence will carry a maximum prison sentence of five years. This is more than double what the current sentence for dangerous driving is in non-fatal cases.
The purpose of the new law is to recognise the severity of dangerous driving which has not caused a fatality but which has a hugely detrimental impact on the lives of victims and their families. As with existing laws, the actual level of penalty will be determined by a judge, taking in to account the severity of the offence and the degree of harm caused.
However, exactly how the new offence will operate is yet to be finalised so employers would do well to monitor developments here. For instance, there is no proposed definition of what constitutes a serious injury. In particular, no guidance on whether or not the injury will need to have permanent consequences for the victim, or if an injury which is serious, albeit fully recoverable over time, will be included.
What is clear is that many cases under the new law will be determined on the detail of medical evidence and this may add additional time and costs to completing cases.
Therefore, for any SMEs that employ people who undertake a lot of driving as part of their role, it would be wise to take this opportunity to ensure that workplace driving policies are up to date and fully implemented across their business. This will help to minimise the risks associated with employees driving for work and will ensure that these risks are effectively controlled.
For more information contact the health and safety team at Dickinson Dees.
:: Anna Hart is associate in health and safety at law firm Dickinson Dees.