Fleet News

Corporate killing law a step nearer

FLEETS and their suppliers have made their final bid to influence the shape of the Corporate Manslaughter Bill.

The fleet industry was invited to make its voice heard in a consultation and any submissions put forward needed to be in by last Friday.

The long-awaited Corporate Manslaughter Bill aims to make it easier to prosecute companies following fatal accidents. Proposals for reforming the law were published in March but never went ahead because of the General Election.

A revised Bill will have to go through Parliament but is expected to become law within the next 18 months.

The Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) said fleet operators that have solid risk management policies have nothing to worry about.

ACFO director Stewart Whyte said: ‘What our members hope and expect from the Corporate Man-slaughter Bill is a sound piece of legislation that is clear-cut, punishes genuine negligence on the part of anyone involved in running a dangerous fleet and which makes it clear that ‘normal’ fleets with realistic policies in place have nothing to fear.’

Industry is calling on the Government to ensure the new law works at all levels for both large and small companies.

Penny Stoolman, director sales and marketing at Avis Rent a Car, said: ‘Whatever the recommendations, the Government has got to advise all levels of companies on how to put them into practice.

‘We are particularly worried about small to medium-size enterprises that simply don’t have dedicated staff to manage health and safety issues in the workplace.’

And it must also guide companies that have a significant number of staff using their own cars for business use, according to RAC Software Solution’s managing director Aidan Rowsome.

He said: ‘Just because the car doesn’t belong to the company, the employer still needs to take the driver’s safety just as seriously.

‘At the heart of whatever is announced has got to be raising awareness because, without it, many companies will not take corporate manslaughter seriously, whatever the Bill recommends.’

Leasing company ALD Automotive has been contacted by a number of its fleet customers seeking help in putting together risk management strategies.

Its deputy managing director, Nigel Fletcher, said: ‘We believe this is a direct result of the Government’s plan to introduce new corporate manslaughter legislation.’

And offering advice to companies so they meet the requirements of the new Bill, Jim Kirkwood, managing director of driver training group DriveTech (UK), said: ‘To comply with best practice, they should at the very least undertake an audit trail of both vehicles and drivers, including employees who drive their own cars on business, and review and analyse road accident data.

‘Armed with that information fleet operators should then ensure actions are taken to eliminate the number of crashes incurred on business-related trips.’

James Sutherland, managing director of Peak Performance, added: ‘Employers should consider the risks to employees while driving, in the same way as for those in a workplace, which means they must conduct a risk assessment on their work-related driving activities and implement the appropriate controls to reduce that risk.’

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