Mock trial highlights employer responsibilities

12.00 | 25 March 2015 | | 4 comments

Wirral Council’s road safety team has staged a ‘mock trial’ to highlight the potential consequences for a company if one of their workers is involved in a road traffic collision while driving for work.

The event, staged at Wallasey Town Hall in conjunction with a specialist driver safety consultancy and risk management firm, Merseyside Police and VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency), set out to remind company bosses of their responsibilities and duty of care to employees who drive as part of their work.

The mock trial was based on a scenario in which a firm’s sales manager is driving to visit a client and takes a stressful phone call from her boss while driving. The distracted driver is then involved in a serious collision that results in death and serious injuries to occupants in another car. 

The subsequent police enquiry highlights a number of areas where the company appears not to have fulfilled its duty of care obligations and the Crown Prosecution Service decides there is enough evidence to prosecute.

The failings highlighted by the police, known as aggravating factors, are then used against the company in court making the situation far worse for the employer, and the penalties more severe.

Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Wirral Council, said: “The potential for employers who have staff driving on their behalf for business to fall foul of their obligations under health and safety at work law is significant.

“The idea behind the trial scenario was to show what the employer could go through following a serious accident. It highlighted how the police investigate the company, its policies and its working practices, and it showed what level of punishment the company could expect to receive if found guilty.”

The trial formed part of a wider day-long conference about road safety for people who drive for business and gave employers the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns they have with experts in a confidential setting. 


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    Thanks for the feedback Rhian – that outcome puts it more into perspective. Still wary of RDIM though! I might be interested in attending a future ‘mock trial’ as I am not far away.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Thank you for the comments.

    Although it may not have been clear in the press release the employee was sentenced to two years imprisonment for her role in the collision. This really highlights the duty of care that employers and employees have to other road users.

    All in all this was a great event, with positive feedback received from delegates who have been offered free support for their business under Wirral Council’s Mind Your Business, Road Safety at Work initiative. We are planning to hold a future Mock Trial and if you would like to receive further information then please do contact us at

    Rhian Hughes, Wirral Council
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    Does not the driver themselves have a duty under health and safety to report dangerous situations or negligent behaviour and curtail any phone call even if it is from the boss?

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    No mention of the driver herself being to blame then?

    Since the Road Death Investigation Manual was introduced, I’ve been a bit wary of police investigations looking for corporate blame. Unless an employer has (wrongly) instructed an employee to use their ‘phone whilst driving for business purposes, in this particular scenario I don’t see how the employer can be responsible. It could have been a personal ‘phone call, with the same consequences.

    The ‘mock trial’ is an interesting idea, but not if it moves the focus away from the actual culprit.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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