Health and Safety

by Pete Fisher

Driving at work

It is estimated that 20 per cent of all vehicle crashes are due to tiredness on the part of drivers and that sleepiness kills more people on the roads than alcohol-related accidents.

Risk assessment

Driving on company business increases the exposure to risk and therefore the likelihood of road traffic accidents. Managers must undertake a risk assessment in accordance with MHSW when work routines involve driving, whether this is a major element of the work, as in the case of couriers and chauffeurs, or part of the task, such as driving to and from client premises.

Current legislation governing driver hours is not applicable to car drivers, but managers could be liable if it is shown that an accident occurred due to poor work routines, vehicle maintenance or undue time pressures.

Managers need to take account of the following:

  • The time of day when the journey is to be made – research shows that the most likely time for tiredness-related accidents is late at night, early in the morning and mid-afternoon
  • What flexibility the driver has in setting his own schedule
  • Route planning
  • Travel arrangements, particularly the expectations of drivers who are just returning from a flight or ferry crossing and may arrive back in a tired state.

Supply of vehicles

Vehicles supplied for use at work must be suitable for the task and regularly maintained. Where an employee uses their own vehicle, managers must satisfy themselves that is in a roadworthy condition.

Driver policy

Before any individual is allowed to drive on company business, the line manager must check that the driver has a current full driving licence for that type of vehicle. Where practicable, he should also ensure that the driver is not taking any medication or suffers from a medical complaint that could affect their ability to drive.

Drivers must be made aware of any company restrictions or policy covering driving and the action to take in an emergency. All accidents and incidents should be reported in the same manner as any other work-related incident.

It is good practice to review the person’s authority to drive and recheck their licence periodically.

Drivers’ responsibilities

The driver is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is in a road-worthy condition before setting off on a journey. In liaison with their manager, they should ensure the vehicle is being maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s or lease company’s recommendations.

Drivers must comply with current road traffic laws and the Highway Code; in particular, they should plan their schedule (giving consideration to the journey home) to allow for sufficient breaks from driving.

Proper control of the vehicle must be exercised at all times. It is illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices. You can use hands-free phones and sat-navs when you driving or riding, but if the police think you are distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.