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October 24, 2007

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Don’t take the road to ruin

If you haven’t got your “ducks in a line” on road safety issues, then you may soon be in for a shock, David Penny, senior consultant at Fleetrisk 24, told the National Safety Symposium.

David said the Road Safety Act 2006 means much more than just a ban on the use of handheld mobile telephones at the wheel — it brings with it a whole raft of new measures.

“We’ve got the new Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act coming in early next year, and can you think of a better opportunity than work-related road deaths to get some case history down?” he asked.

“Road traffic law is mainly concerned with the driver, but there is something about permitting the use of a vehicle that brings organisations into focus. A managing director could be prosecuted for manslaughter for aiding and abetting in a road-traffic manslaughter case.”

David said that the new Act brought with it some new offences, including causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, which carries a custodial sentence of up to five years. There’s also staggered fixed-penalty limits for speeding, and a fixed penalty for having speed assessment equipment.

Another area of concern for businesses will be another new law, causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified, or uninsured. David commented: “How many of your drivers have business insurance while driving for the company? I know there are a lot of people out there who drive for their company without business insurance, and they could fall under this.”

‘Micro sleeping’ is another major area of concern. David said he had recently interviewed 25 engineers, and 24 had experienced fatigue behind the wheel at dangerous levels. To help combat this, the new Act has a provision for a trial of French-style ‘aires’ or regular resting points on UK motorways.

“You have to think about how the Act is going to affect your organisation. Work-related road deaths are a social responsibility, and we have to do what we can to tackle them in order to help save lives.”

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