Firms could be liable for ignoring safety of drivers

Company car drivers are being put at risk because too many employers are
ignoring health and safety issues such as how many hours their staff spend
behind the wheel.

This is the conclusion of a report on company car drivers, which also warns that
employers could find themselves at risk of prosecution if they don’t take
measures to safeguard drivers. This is in the light of government plans to
introduce more stringent health and safety legislation.

Company Cars – The Driver Perspective, by contract hire firm Godfrey Davis,
finds that nearly a fifth of company car drivers spend more than 20 hours a
week behind the wheel. The study also reveals two-thirds of drivers have never
had their licence checked by an employer.

Nigel Underdown, director of marketing at Godfrey Davis, called the
statistics alarming and said they indicated a serious shortcoming in fleet
control procedures. He said that employers could be liable if proposals to
introduce tougher health and safety legislation, which could include the charge
of corporate killing, are introduced.

"A driver losing their licence, not reporting it to their employer and
then being involved in a serious accident would leave the employer
defenceless," he said.

Based on a survey of more than 700 company car drivers, the report suggests
that employers need to review work patterns to control the number of hours
their drivers spend on the road.

Other areas of risk include the fact that younger drivers are more likely to
speed and drive for longer periods without taking rest breaks and that older
drivers are likely to be less responsible about drink-driving.

By Lisa Bratby

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