Legislation ‘failing to bring companies to account’ for road safety performance

13.41 | 20 September 2018 | | 6 comments

Existing legislation is failing to bring companies to account for their road safety performance, according to IAM RoadSmart.

In a white paper published today (20 Sept), the road safety charity highlights the ‘lack of driving-for-work prosecutions’ under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act – describing the legislation as a failure.

Under the Act, which was introduced in 2007, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of ‘serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care’.

The road safety charity says not a single person has been sent to jail, or even prosecuted, for contributing to an avoidable death under the legislation.

The white paper, authored by professor Steve Tombs of the Open University on behalf of IAM RoadSmart, says corporate manslaughter is ‘too far down the pecking order’ and is not backed by a dedicated team at the HSE.

The paper says: “It (the Act) has not done what it was designed to do; bring to account large companies.

“Where the law falls down is in its ability to identify fault in one central headquarters location or with the senior executive.

“You can always pin it down to the individual man or woman driving. But showing ‘he or she was failing to operate in a way that was required by the company’ is much harder.”

Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart business development director, said: “Many in the transport and driver risk management arena welcomed the Corporate Manslaughter Act when it was introduced, believing it would make it easier to hold organisations more closely to account for the wellbeing and safety of those engaged in driving for work, with safety benefits for other road-users.

“A few years ago the fleet industry was buzzing with experts warning companies that if they didn’t implement proper, robust workplace driving policies to safeguard the public and the workforce, they would all be going to jail. It was going to be transformational for road safety.

“Yet no company car driver or senior manager involved in an avoidable death has been anywhere near a prosecution. It seems the legislation has proved difficult to apply.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research of IAM RoadSmart, said: “If a company director forced someone to drive too many hours in the day, or employed someone who had been banned (from driving) and there was a crash resulting in a fatality, a prosecution would help send a message to businesses that a lot more care needs to be taken in this area.”



Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    Mr Luton – Are you making a distinction between a company employing someone specifically as a driver e.g. a courier or LGV driver – as opposed to someone whose need to drive around to do their job is incidental to their actual job e.g. a GP doing their rounds or a salesmen visiting clients? If it is the former and the company is aware that one of their drivers is in the habit of driving recklessly or carelessly and takes no action, then yes, there should be liability, but in the second case, I’m not sure the employer is required to monitor their employees driving and to have any such responsibility. You may well be fired if you were a reckless or careless chemistry teacher, but presumably not so if you knocked a pedestrian over whilst in a hurry driving to and from the school during the school day for some sundry purpose for example. It’s how one interprets ‘driving for work’. Is it work as a driver, or is it work which requires driving somewhere to actually do the work, whatever that may be?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (3)

    Hugh Jones : It is the responsibility of companies not to employ drivers who are reckless or careless and to monitor their driving. As a Chemistry teacher if I were found to be either of those I would have been fired.

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Perhaps the IAM should look at its own policy when training Advanced drivers and motorcyclists. Two of the most dangerous practises. where by far the greatest numbers of KSI’s are reported in stats are on bends [1] and on overtakes [2]and that’s where they put a lot of their training efforts into …. Out in the country roads on bends and overtakes.

    Perhaps they should look at their own history as not a lot of reductions have been made on those two causation’s over decades of tuition. We still suffer far to many incidents and KSI.s on bends and unnecessary or inappropriate overtakes

    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    Imagine an emergency services driver who, ‘driving for work’, on their way to an incident in a hurry, has a collision. It’s clearly a requirement of their job to get there as quickly as possible – which is risky anyway – so does that requirement absolve the driver from liability? Or, if their training is considered to be adequate, did the driver therefore fail and is therefore wholly liable and should be prosecuted, or is the training poor and it’s therefore not the driver’s fault – despite the fact that he/she would have been in sole charge of the vehicle and therefore no less responsible than any other driver?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Most large organisations (and many smaller ones) these days will have a policy that does not permit phone calls whilst driving. However many employees still feel it necessary to make and take hands-free calls for operational reasons whilst driving.

    Since hand-held and hands-free phone calls both have high levels of distraction,I wonder how long we will continue to have legislation that bans one and permits the other? Quite a while I would think judging from the lack of interest at governmental level in re-visiting this topic.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    I’ve never been convinced of the significance of the ‘driving for work’ link. People driving anywhere, anytime are going somewhere for a purpose even if it’s just to the shops so I cant see any significance in a collision whilst ‘driving for work’ or for recreational purposes in their own time. If one is accident-prone, you will be anyway regardless of the purpose of your journey. Taking risks because you’re running late for a business meeting is no different to taking risks because you’re running late for a flight or hospital appointment. If a driver involved in a collision whilst at work thinks there were mitigating circumstances which made him/her more reckless or carelsss as a result, it would be up to them to highlight it to the police, not for the police to presume at the outset, some corporate failing and waste time looking for it.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (4)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.