AM Online

A risky business

Just sat through a 90-minute company talk about risk assessment on driving at work – attendance was mandatory. Good for insomnia, especially when hearing about the reams of legislation that affects this area of business – 96 bits in the Road Traffic Act, alone.

A few facts and figures helped to concentrate minds, though: 10 deaths on the road every day, 66,000 accidents a day. Sixty-five per cent of company car drivers will be involved in an accident within the next 12 months (incidentally, AM’s parent company, Bauer, will have 38% of its cars involved in an accident).

And the cost goes far beyond the cost of repair, which averages £750 per incident. Hidden costs are estimated at between 6 and 53 times greater and include cost of hire car, missed appointments, legal costs, claim admin, etc.

Almost all accidents are caused by human error (95%), and 65% are human error alone.

That’s not surprising when you consider some facts about sleeping while driving. Over the past 12 months, 15% of all drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel once; of those who driver more than 20,000 miles a year, one-third (34%) admit to falling asleep once.

A worrying 6% of all drivers say they have fallen asleep up to 10 times over the past 12 months.

Companies must have a policy and management process signed by staff or they leave themselves open to prosecution and a guilty verdict – and that means fines and possible jail.

And prosecution goes right to the top. Under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter Act, lawyers will try to connect as many people as possible to the incident, from the board down to the individual.

In an interesting twist of basic law, according to the Police Road Death Investigation manual, all road deaths are investigated as “unlawful killings until the contrary is proved”. In other words, you are guilty until proved innocent.

So it’s crucial for all companies to have a robust driving at work policy in place that is communicated to and signed by drivers, and is constantly updated. Driver training is critical, attitudes and beliefs must be assessed.

Would your risk management policy stand up to such scrutiny?

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