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The UK has the third safest roads in Europe. But if your business depends on drivers, car accident statistics still make for uncomfortable reading.
In 2020, 131,220 people got injured or killed in car accidents, and in most years the figure is much higher. And, more to the point, one in four involve a company vehicle or people driving their private car for work.
Here’s a look at who’d be liable should one of your employees get into a car accident on the job. We’ll also give you some tips on lowering risk and keeping your drivers safer.
According to the Road Traffic Act, drivers are responsible for the way they drive. This means your employees could be liable for an accident if:
While employees have to observe road traffic laws, you’re not off the hook. Employers have a duty of care towards employees. And this means you could be responsible for a road accident if:
As a rule, an employee is driving at work — and, so, a duty of care applies — when:
Work with contractors or subcontractors? You’re responsible for their driving too.
As an employer, you have to do everything reasonably possible to ensure your employees’ health, safety and well-being at work. And this extends to driving for work-related reasons.
But what does “everything reasonably possible” actually mean?
The Health and Safety Executive recommends focusing on three main areas:
Do your drivers have the right skills for the job?
At the very least, they’ll need the correct driving licence. A standard licence is enough for driving vans up to 3.5 kg. But lorry drivers must have a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence in addition to their Class 1 or Class 2 HGV license.
More importantly, you should:
It goes without saying, but your company vehicles should be:
Your duty of care as an employer applies even if employees use their own car. If any of your employees use their personal vehicles for work, you should check they’re fit for purpose too.
B-roads might make sense if your employees are travelling short distances by car. But motorways tend to be the safest option for heavier vehicles.
When picking routes, you should also think about:
More importantly, ask yourself: are your expectations realistic?
HGV drivers have to take a 45-minute break every 4.5 hours. And they can’t drive more than 10 hours a day or 56 hours a week. But you should set reasonable travel times for all your employees.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reckons accidents are more likely:
For this reason, you should encourage employees to take regular breaks. And, you should provide overnight accommodation if they’re driving very long distances.
Obviously the first thing you will be concerned about, should the worst happen, is to check how your employee is after an accident.
If you have a vehicle tracking system installed in your company cars or vans, you will be able to opt for alerts that let you know if there may have been an accident and if you have dashcams as well, you can receive HD video footage immediately to see for yourself what has happened.
Immediately afterwards, you should make your First Notification of Loss (FNOL) to your motor fleet insurance company, or broker if you use one. This means informing your insurer of the accident, whether or not you want to claim (this is a regulatory requirement) and sharing all the details of the incident and the contact details of the other parties involved.
With a prompt FNOL from you and by acting fast and taking control of the situation, your insurer can keep their total costs lower. They can offer a replacement vehicle from their own provider, for example, rather than paying back the other driver’s insurer for a hire vehicle from a rental company of their own choosing. The same principle applies to paying for vehicle repairs and could also apply to medical care, legal fees and other costs.
The longer you delay, the higher the total costs will be to your insurer. This ultimate total cost is what your insurer takes into consideration when preparing your renewal quotation. The higher the price of the insurance claim, the bigger the increase in your renewal premium – not just in the first year but for several years to come.
For more information on motor fleet insurance, visit our Insurance Page.
When it comes to driving at work, liability for car accidents is a two-way street. Yes, your employees are responsible for their behaviour behind the wheel. But if they fancy themselves the next Lewis Hamilton, you can’t just shrug your shoulders.
As an employer, you have a duty of care. And having processes and procedures in place is crucial if you want to keep your drivers safe, prove you’ve fulfilled your duty and avoid liability.
What if you could take things further and use technology to track your vehicles, check routes and nip problem driving in the bud?
It would make things even simpler, right?
Well, that’s exactly what Telematics can do.