Fleets are under mounting pressure from the Government to slash accident rates following the publication of a discussion document from the independent Work-Related Road Safety Task Group. Terry Loizou, deputy chairman of the committee and corporate transport and insurance manager at Barnardos, said employers had a duty to make sure drivers were qualified to drive a company car and that drivers received all the training they needed. He said health and safety and driver training was important because drivers travelling long distances over a long time need to be able to take a break. 'But in most cases there is pressure on the driver to meet deadlines,' he said.
The announcement of a Safety Bill, which aims to make transport operators and employers more responsible for the safety of their workers, could still lead to manslaughter charges if fleet managers were proved to be ignoring the safety of their drivers. And he warned: 'Tossing the keys of a company vehicle towards a new employee, hoping they can catch, but above all, hoping they will never have a crash, could result in imprisonment for company directors and officers.
'All companies and their managers should now be making a detailed examination of their Health & Safety Policy and Practices in relation to company procedures, drivers and vehicles.' He added that fleet chiefs needed to get tough on risk management and demonstrate that a process would be put in place to tackle the issue. 'The creation of a crash-free culture is only possible if it becomes an important company directive,' he said.