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.
Car Accidents in Company Vehicles: When are Employees Liable?
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:
Car Accidents in Company Vehicles: Your Liability as an Employer
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:
When is an Employee Driving at Work?
As a rule, an employee is driving at work — and, so, a duty of care applies — when:
The Health and Safety Executive doesn’t consider commuting to be driving at work. So, a duty of care doesn’t apply — and you can’t be held responsible for accidents — when your employees are:
How Does the Employer’s Duty of Care Apply to Driving at Work?
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:
Your Duty of Care and Driving: Safe Driving
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.
More importantly, you should:
Work with contractors or subcontractors? You’re responsible for their driving too.
Your Duty of Care and Driving: Are Your Vehicles Fit for Purpose?
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.
Your Duty of Care and Driving: Are Your Chosen Routes Safe?
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.
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.
But 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 Kinesis can do.