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									Driving responsibly

Introduction

There are many things that can distract us while driving, and it‟s important for
employers to consider the risks their staff face while driving for work, particularly
on long journeys.

Responsible driving should be at the core of your policy, which should include
guidance on illegal driving activity such as alcohol, drugs and mobile phones as
well as everyday distractions such as eating, drinking or smoking, which may still
result in a fine, penalty points or prosecution.

Although we will discuss four of the most common offences and distractions that
drivers face, the Highway Code lists all of the following as potential distractions:

   Using a mobile phone
   Eating and drinking
   Smoking
   Loud music
   Trying to read maps
   Inserting a CD
   Arguing with passengers or other road users

Mobile phones

Introduction

Since December 2003, it has been illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while
driving. Drivers can also be prosecuted for using a hands-free device if they are
not considered to be in proper control of their vehicle, and both of these offences
carry the same hefty consequences.

With drivers using mobile phones four times more likely to crash, and reaction
times worse than those of drunk drivers, it‟s important for every employer to set
out a strict policy covering not just mobile phones but other devices such as a
PDA or BlackBerry.

The law

In recent years the Police have been progressively enforcing mobile phone laws
more stringently. A staggering 140,000 fixed penalty notices were issued in 2005
alone, compared to 80,000 in 2004, and the numbers continue to grow. The
Police also have the power to check phone records when investigating fatal and
serious crashes to determine if use of the phone contributed to the crash.

In addition to this, the £30 fine previously issued to drivers using a hand-held
mobile phone rose to £60 plus three penalty points in 2007. The consequences
are exactly the same for drivers using hands-free mobile phones but not in proper
control of their vehicle. If the case goes to court, drivers could face a maximum
fine of £1,000, which rises to £2,500 for the driver of a bus, coach, or heavy
goods vehicle.

As an employer, health and safety law applies to on-the-road work activities too,
and you have a responsibility to ensure that employees required to drive for work
remain safe. You can be prosecuted if you cause or require employees to make or
receive a call when driving.

                                                                    Copyright Lloyds TSB Autolease
What‟s covered by the law?

Covered                                        Exceptions

All devices for sending and receiving          A driver may call 999 in an emergency
data are included if they‟re held whilst       if it‟s unsafe or impractical to stop
driving, e.g. PDAs


A driver who has stopped at traffic            Pushing buttons on a phone while it is
lights or in a traffic jam. If the engine is   in a cradle or on the steering wheel is
running, this is still regarded as driving     not covered, provided the driver
                                               doesn‟t hold the phone


                                               Two-way radios are not covered


What action should you take?

You should have a clear policy covering the use of mobile phones while driving. If
your policy does allow for mobile phones to be used, employees should be
provided with an adequate hands-free system.

However, to minimise your risk, you may want to take the proactive approach of
banning the use of mobile phones completely while driving – an approach that
has already been taken by some of our customers.

Alcohol and drugs

Introduction

Alcohol and drugs impair judgement, make drivers over-confident and more likely
to take risks. Drivers‟ reactions are slower, stopping distances increased and
judgement of speed and distance are seriously affected.

Around 10 people are killed and 50 seriously injured in drink-drive crashes each
week, while 18% of people killed in crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their
blood.

Like it or not, drugs and alcohol are an increasing problem in today‟s society and
therefore pose an increasing threat to businesses and their drivers. Drug test
provider, Grendostar, reported in Fleet News that employers should expect that 1
in 10 employees are likely to use illegal drugs.

The law

The legal alcohol limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath,
with the main testing procedure being by breath test. However, there is no
certainty as to how much an individual can drink and stay under the limit. This
depends on a range of factors including age, sex, weight, metabolism, food intake
and what sort of drink has been consumed. If in doubt, it‟s best not to drink at
all.

Driving while under the influence of drugs – either prescribed medication or illegal
substances – is also illegal. Should a driver be arrested under suspicion of drug-

                                                                      Copyright Lloyds TSB Autolease
driving, a doctor might be called to the station to give a professional opinion on
whether drivers are unfit to drive. The penalties are the same as for drink-
driving.

The offence                                  The consequence

Driving or attempting to drive while         Maximum penalty of 6 months‟
above the legal limit or unfit through       imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000
drink or drugs                               and a minimum 12 month driving ban


Being in charge of a vehicle while over      3 months‟ imprisonment, plus a fine of
the legal limit, or unfit through drink or   up to £2,500 and a driving ban
drugs


Refusing to provide a specimen of blood      Maximum 6 months‟ imprisonment, up
or urine for analysis                        to £5,000 fine and a driving ban of at
                                             least 12 months


Causing death by dangerous driving           Maximum 14 years‟ imprisonment, a
while unfit through drink or drugs           minimum 2 year driving ban and a
                                             requirement to pass an extended
                                             driving test before legally allowed to
                                             drive again


An endorsement for a drink-driving offence remains on a driving licence for 11
years, meaning that it‟s 11 years before a convicted driver will have a „clean‟
licence again. This is disastrous for anyone who makes a living by driving.

What action should you take?

When developing your policy towards drink and drug driving, there are ten simple
steps you can take to minimise your risk:

1. Clearly define what constitutes misuse of drugs and alcohol
2. Review your drug and alcohol policy to ensure it includes safe driving
3. Make sure it‟s clearly communicated, and that employees are given an
   opportunity to give feedback
4. Give all managers training on how to spot problems of substance abuse, and
   how to help
5. Make sure your employees know where they can get confidential help and
   advice if they feel they have a problem
6. Require drivers to notify any drink or drug related road offences
7. If you feel it is necessary, develop policies for testing, making sure that
   everyone knows how the tests will be administered, what happens if tests are
   positive, or the consequences of refusing to take a test
8. Continually monitor both your policies and the results to spot trends and
   identify where changes need to be made
9. Consider those most at risk. Department for Transport research showed men
   aged 17-29 as a particular risk group
10. Ensure that all staff realise that the law – and your policy – covers
   prescription drugs too




                                                                    Copyright Lloyds TSB Autolease
One of the most common trouble areas you can address is the issue of driving the
day after drinking. Most drivers wouldn‟t consider drinking and driving the same
day/evening, but how many of us have driven on business the day after a heavy
night? Providing clear guidance to employees on your expectations in this area
can significantly reduce your – and their – risk.

It takes at least one hour for every half pint of beer, glass of wine or measure of
spirits to get out of your system.

One in five drivers caught drink-driving are caught “the morning after”.
- Department for Transport

Smoking while driving

Introduction

Smoking behind the wheel is not a direct breach of road safety regulations but
could result in a prosecution for driving without due care or attention, dangerous
driving, or failing to be in proper control of the vehicle.

When developing your road safety policy, it‟s important to ensure that drivers are
fully informed of the dangers surrounding the distractions they face, and the
possible consequences for them.

The law

If a motorist is caught driving inappropriately while smoking, they may be
breaking the law. Police have the power to charge motorists with between three
and nine penalty points, a fine of up to £2,500 or even a driving ban.

Health Act 2007 regulations prohibit smoking in all enclosed public spaces,
including workplaces. Company vehicles are to be treated as „workplaces‟ if they
are used by more than one employee. The following rules apply:
.
 Employees who have a company vehicle for their sole use may not smoke
   while carrying colleagues for work purposes
 Employees who have a company vehicle for their sole use may smoke while
   carrying colleagues to and from a place of work, as these journeys are counted
   as private use
 Drivers are not allowed to smoke in a company vehicle if it is used by more
   than one employee, for example pool cars, as there is a risk that other
   colleagues might later inhale their smoke
 Employees sharing a pool car are not allowed to smoke in the vehicle, even if
   all the users of the vehicle are heavy smokers
 Employees who are cash takers may not smoke while carrying colleagues for
   work purposes
 A shared company vehicle is exempt from the smoking ban if it is a
   convertible, but only when the roof is down

What action should you take?

We would recommend that the best way for companies wanting to take total
control of their company smoking policy would be to ban smoking completely
from all company cars and vehicles.

Should there be any confusion surrounding the ban and which vehicles it covers,
a total ban on smoking in any company owned vehicle, whether for sole use of

                                                                   Copyright Lloyds TSB Autolease
one person or shared, may be the simplest option. A total ban on smoking would
also ensure that vehicles are kept in better condition, which would prevent
possible recharges when vehicles are returned.

Eating and drinking at the wheel

Introduction

Eating or drinking while driving can nearly double the risk of crashing, according
to research carried out by Brunel University and Privilege Insurance.

Using driving simulators, researchers found that although drivers slowed down to
eat or drink, they were distracted and were often unable to brake quickly enough
to avoid an accident. In fact, nine out of ten 'crashes' occurred at the point the
driver was eating or drinking, resulting in the running-over of an unfortunate
virtual pedestrian.

Dr Mark Young, who headed the Brunel University research team, said: “The
results of our experiment strongly indicate that eating or drinking while driving
increases the risk of a crash. Drivers may not perceive the risk to be any higher
than other menial in-car tasks, but the impaired reactions combined with the
increased workload suggest drivers should exert caution.”6

The law

Although there are no laws against eating and drinking at the wheel, driving
carelessly while doing so may result in a prosecution. In 2005, a removal lorry
driver who ate a packet of crisps and steered with his elbows while negotiating a
mini-roundabout was fined £250.

More seriously, a university lecturer was jailed for 90 days in 2001 for killing
three people on the M1 after swerving while searching for a mint in his jacket
pocket.

It is important for employers to set a clear policy on driver safety, and to ensure
that drivers understand that such distractions could lead to fines, prosecution and
possibly even the loss of their licence and livelihood.


„Driving for Work: Drink and Drugs‟ RoSPA publication, accessed at
http://www.rospa.co.uk/roadsafety/info/workdrinkdrugs.pdf, 18/2/08
Fleet News, January 2008 edition
Department for Transport‟s Think! Road Safety Drink & Drug Campaign,
accessed at
http://www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk/campaigns/drinkdrive/drinkdrive01.htm
18/2/08
‘Smoking Drivers Risk Prosecution’ by Dominic Sacco, published on
www.vertar.com on 28/9/07
From ‘UK Smoking Legislation’, Lloyds TSB Autolease Customer Fact Sheet
6
 Taken from: ‘Eating and Drinking Is As Risky As Using a Phone At the Wheel’ by
Ben Webster, published on www.timesonline.com, 18th August 2006




                                                                   Copyright Lloyds TSB Autolease

								
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