Along with Sweden, The Netherlands and Denmark, Britain is one of the safest countries to drive in in the world. Yet in 2015, there were 140,056 personal-injury road traffic accidents reported to the police. 1 in 3 road crashes involve a vehicle that is being driven as part of someone’s job. According to the RAC foundation, driving is the most dangerous thing that we do while at work! In 2011 36% of people who were hurt in road traffic accidents were driving on company business.
Employees can also suffer from musculoskeletal injuries while driving, due to poor driving posture or driving for excessive periods of time.
Not all accidents or injuries will be the fault of the employer, accidents can be caused by drunk drivers, people distracted by their phones, animals in the road, faults in the road etc. Read our FAQ’s about road traffic accident claims, which covers questions you may have about these types of accidents.
Your employer has a duty of care to you, other road users and pedestrians under health and safety legislation. If the proper care isn’t taken, then they could be held responsible for your road traffic accident.
High Risk Drivers
Generally the more time you spend driving, the more at risk you are. This puts HGV drivers, bus drivers and delivery drivers at the highest risk. Anyone who drives as part of their work, whether it’s travelling between clients for maintenance repairs, driving to events or sales meetings, should be risk assessed.
Young and inexperienced drivers also face a high risk when driving at work.
How employers put their drivers at risk:
- Put pressure on drivers to complete a journey in bad weather conditions.
- Make their staff drive in a vehicle that is not appropriate for the weather conditions. For example, require motor bike deliveries in icy weather, drive a HGV with a light load in extremely windy conditions, or drive a vehicle that does not have the correct tires on for the weather.
- Refuse to allow extra time for a journey in bad weather conditions.
- Not allow rest periods or overnight stops when you’re feeling excessively sleepy.
- Give unreasonable expectations about how quickly deliveries need to be made or jobs need to be done and try and make their staff fit in too many jobs in a day.
- Not making allowances for young or inexperienced drivers.
- Not taking high traffic levels into account.
- Not taking overhead restrictions into account, or roads which may be impossible for certain vehicles to get down.
- Not providing the safest route for a driver, taking a motorway could add time to a journey, but is much safer for large vehicles.
- Not providing training on ergonomic driving, and how to drive for long periods of time without incurring back pain and other problems caused by poor driving posture.
- Not ensuring that motor vehicles are maintained and safe to drive. An MOT only covers the basic safety of a vehicle, policies should be in place to make sure a vehicle is in good condition and has the correct tires and windscreen wipers fitted.
- Putting drivers in a situation where they are encouraged to answer the phone. If drivers need to use their phone, a hands free kit should be provided.
- Hiring people for driving jobs when they don’t have the correct qualifications, or not providing the correct training.
- Requiring staff drive when they are not physically fit to.
- Not adhering to EU drivers hours rules.
There are EU drivers hours rules put in place to protect workers. Simplified these are:
- 9 hours daily driving limit. (Can be increased to 10 hours twice a week)
- Maximum 58 hours weekly driving limit.
- Maximum 90 hours fortnightly driving limit.
- 45 minute break after 4.5 hours driving (breaks can be split into two periods the first must be at least 15 minutes, and the second must be at least 30 minutes)
- 11 hours regular daily rest, which can be reduced to 9 hours no more than three times a week.
- 45 hours weekly rest, which can be reduced to 24 hours, provided at least one full rest is taken in any fortnight.
For more in depth information about drivers hours, see the Gov.uk guidance.
With a workplace road traffic accident there are many things to consider. The cause of the accident needs to be established, alongside who was at fault before we can proceed. Indeed, the employer may not be at fault and the accident could have been caused by a third party, or there could have been a few causes to the accident that need to be taken into account. Before making a decision about whether to claim for compensation, it’s best to speak with a qualified solicitor. Call ASD on 0114 267 8780 and if we think we can help, a home visit can be arranged to discuss your concerns immediately. Alternatively, you can leave us your name and number in our make a claim form and one of our solicitors will call you back.