Employers’ reponsibility to ensure safe driving

Last updated: 04 Mar 2020

While there are no health and safety regulations that focus specifically on driving, work-related road risk is no different from any other workplace health and safety risk. Employers have common law duties of care and statutory duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and its associated regulations.

Employers must take all reasonable steps to manage road risks and do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm.

Your employer is required by law to assess anything that may cause harm, and this will include dangers on the road. Risk assessments for work-related driving should follow the same principles as risk assessments for any other work activity. The aim is to make the risk of someone being injured or killed as low as possible.

Employers identifying hazards on the road should speak to staff or their representatives, as they are likely to have first hand experience of the hazards the need to be managed.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1999 place additional duties on employers to ensure that work equipment and machinery – which includes vehicles – is suitable and safe, and employees are properly trained in its use.

Risk assessments: safe driver, safe vehicle, safe journey

The HSE says that, when carrying out a risk assessment, employers should think about the three areas of safe driver, safe vehicle and safe journey to shape the control measures they should introduce. Many companies focus on driver-centred interventions such as training, and pay little attention to day-to-day working practices and pressures which require staff drive thousands of business miles a year, often at peak times, against deadlines.

Employers should consider issues such as:

Safe driver

  • Do drivers have the skills, experience and knowledge required to drive safely?
  • Do drivers have clear instructions on how to keep themselves safe?
  • Do they know to carry out vehicle checks?
  • Are drivers sufficiently fit and healthy to drive safely? Do they satisfy the eyesight and other health requirements of the Highway Code and the DVLA?

Safe vehicle

  • Are vehicles maintained in a safe and fit condition?
  • Are vehicles fit for the purpose for which they are used?
  • Do they have driver aids and other safety devices, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) or camera systems and proximity sensors?
  • Is drivers’ health, and possibly safety, is being put at risk by poor ergonomics, eg from an inappropriate seating position or driving posture?

Safe journey

  • Are routes planned thoroughly?
  • Are schedules realistic?
  • Are poor weather conditions considered when planning journeys?

The design and construction of cars has improved considerably in recent years, and there are new technologies available that can make driving safer. Employers in the market for new cars should consider purchasing safer vehicles.

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