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.”