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The Road Traffic Act 1988 applies to all vehicles and drivers within the UK as it essentially covers the correct and appropriate use of vehicles on the road in the UK. Health and safety in the UK is of the utmost importance and relevant legislation extends to driving at work, particularly within the Road Traffic Act 1988. To ensure your employees are conducting driving at work safely and appropriately, the Road Traffic Act 1988 is an essential piece of legislation to learn about.
What are the clauses in the Road Traffic Act 1988?
There are six essential sections to the Road Traffic Act 1988, set out in the following way:
Section One: Road Safety Provisions
This section focuses upon the safety provisions involved when driving on UK roads, such as:
– No driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
– Wearing seat belts or helmets whilst driving a motorbike.
– No stopping in dangerous areas, such as on a verge.
– Awareness of pedestrians and driving safely with pedestrians in mind.
Section Two: Use of Vehicles and Equipment
This section focuses upon the design and construction of vehicles and their respective safety features, such as:
– Testing of the vehicle on the roads to ensure it is safe to drive.
– Ensuring horse-drawn vehicles are safely constructed.

Section Three: Licensing of Drivers of Vehicles
This section focuses upon what is required to hold a license to a vehicle, such as:
– Whether an individual has passed all of the relevant tests to own a vehicle.
– Whether an individual deserves to be disqualified from holding a licence to a vehicle.
Section Four: Heavy Goods Vehicles
To drive a heavy goods vehicle, it is required for an individual l to hold a HGV licence.
– To hold a HGV license, the granting, duration and revocation of a HGV licence from an individual is taken into careful account.
Section Five: Driving Instruction
This includes:
– Registration to drive.
– Licence to drive.
– The passing of relevant driving tests.
Section Six: Third-Party Liabilities
If a third party is going to be driving a particular vehicle, insurance and security for this third party must be ensured.
Who is Responsible for Enforcing the Road Traffic Act 1988?
Essentially, the police are responsible for enforcing the Road Traffic Act 1988. Therefore, if an individual in the UK breaches the Road Traffic Act 1988, then they will be subject to the enforcement regulations of the police division in that specific area.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 has received reform and re-evaluation in preceding years, as the situations on UK roads have changed drastically considering the increased number of vehicles on the roads, as well as the number of expanding roads. For example, in December 2018 drivers have been warned about potential upcoming consequences which might be incorporated into the Road Traffic Act 1988 regarding splashing pedestrians by driving through large puddles. The Road Traffic Act 1988 already states that it is an offence for motorists to ‘drive without reasonable consideration for other persons’. It has been suggested that motorists responsible for splashing pedestrians during heavy rain could face up to a maximum of £5,000 and nine points on their licence.
With the Road Traffic Act 1988 undergoing constant reform and analysis, it is important for employers and employees driving at work to stay up to date with the relevant provisions. Consequently, training and knowledge of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is particularly essential for those driving at work.

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According to the Department for Transport, more than a quarter of accidents which occur on UK roads involve individuals who are driving for the purpose of their work or employment. Therefore, the UK health and safety initiative in recent years has focused on tightening up on driving at work laws to ensure employees and employers are well protected. The legislation regarding driving at work does not involve individuals commuting to work; it is only applicable if an individual’s job description involves them driving at work.
The responsibility of driving at work rests with the employer and the employee who is responsible for driving at work. Both the employer and the employee must be well trained regarding UK health and safety at work legislation, which stipulates the responsibility of those driving at work. Safety is of the utmost importance within the workplace and this extends to driving at work. If, as an employer or as an employee, you want to be compliant with UK health and safety legislation whilst driving at work, training is essential.

UK legislation on driving at work

1) The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

This Act places responsibility for driving at work upon the employer, and states that the employer has to ensure that they effectively maintain their duty of care for their employees and work associates. Moreover, the employer also must ensure the safety of other individuals who could be affected by the company’s work – for example, pedestrians on the route. Employers are responsible for the safety of other road users when their employees are driving at work.

2) The Road Traffic Act 1988

It is the responsibility of the employee who is driving at work to be well educated on the UK Highway Code. This includes all of the driving penalties, and the road markings and signs. The employer must ensure that routes for driving at work comply with the Highway Code; for example, an employer must not ask their employees who are driving at work to exceed speed limits. This Act also states that the employer has the responsibility to check that the employee has all the relevant UK driving license materials.

3) The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992

This set of regulations places responsibility upon both the employer and the employee to ensure that the routes that they are taking during their driving at work journey are safe, and are the most effective routes to take. For example, if the route requires an employee to drive into a deserted area late at night on their own, then it is not the safest route possible. The weather and how this might affect the journey should be taken into consideration, especially extreme conditions like snow and ice.

4) The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

This set of regulations states that the employer has the responsibility to conduct risk assessments for driving at work. These risk assessments must assess whether the employees are fit to drive, whether the car is fit for use on the road, and whether the road route is a sensible and safe journey to take. If there is danger found within the risk assessment, then it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that necessary measures are put into place to protect those employees who are driving at work.

The requirements for an employee driving at work:

Essentially, the employee needs to be an individual who is competent and capable of safely driving at work, to ensure they do not harm either themselves or others. To do this, as an employer you can set the following requirements to analyse your employees by:

  • State a level of expertise that your organisation requires an individual to have. For example, if the nature of the job description has a relatively basic driving necessity, then their driving standard will simply have to fit the above health and safety legislation, it does not require vast technical skill.
  • Ensure they have all of the correct licensing documents and tests passed.
  • Ensure the individual is aware of your organisation’s driving at work policy and what is expected of them regarding timing.
  • Have you provided induction training for your employees prior to them beginning their role of driving at work?
  • Have you got refreshment training in place to ensure you are regularly checking that your drivers are fit and appropriate to continue driving at work?

What is an employee’s responsibility when driving at work?

  • To prove the correct driving licenses.
  • To regularly check the vehicle they are using is roadworthy.
  • Awareness of the Highway Code “fitness to drive” requirement, which includes checking they are not too tired to drive, are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and are not taking any medication which could affect their ability to drive.
  • Checking weather conditions to decide whether this will affect driving and their ability to drive.
  • To ensure there are no distractions in the vehicle which could potentially divert the driver’s attention, such as a mobile phone.

Which bodies in the UK enforce regulations for driving at work?

When road traffic accidents occur on public roads in the UK, it tends to be the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency which will investigate the incident.
However, the UK Health and Safety Executive will get involved in road traffic accidents if the police have identified that an employer has contributed towards the accident by not complying with health and safety standards regarding driving at work. If this is the case, the management failure will constitute a ‘gross breach of a relevant duty of care’. As a result, the organisation responsible for breaching the relevant duty of care could face prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

Driving at work risk assessments

Risks and hazards can occur within the workplace at any time, especially whilst employees are driving at work. To identify these risks and protect your employees against them, risk assessments for driving at work are essential. They should include assessing the driver, the vehicle and the route which the driving will take. Where risks occur, they must be sufficiently protected against using control measures.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 make it a legal requirement for the employer to conduct a risk assessment for driving at work, and the following steps could be included in this risk assessment:

Analyse the Driver:

  • Does the driver have the correct level of expertise in order to drive in the UK?
  • Does the driver have the correct UK certification to drive?
  • Is the driver fit and healthy, physically and mentally?
  • Is the driver capable of carrying out safety checks on the car, such as checking the seatbelts all work correctly before every journey?
  • Ensure that the driver is aware that they must not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Analyse the Vehicle:

  • Does your vehicle have safety devices such as reversing alarms and proximity censors?
  • Are individuals safe whilst being in the vehicle – for example, have you checked that all of the airbags are fitted and work correctly?
  • Is the vehicle safe to carry and transport goods if necessary?
  • Have you ensured that the tyres are inspected regularly?

Analyse the driving at work journey:

  • Have you planned the safest route possible?
  • Have you taken into consideration changes in the weather – for example, snow and ice?
  • Has your route taken into account restrictions, such as bridges or tunnels?
  • Have you considered whether the journey could incorporate the use of public transport in order to decrease the amount of time the employee is driving for?

If driving at work is in a worker’s job description, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure all risks associated with it are effectively reduced and protected by adequate control measures. Training and knowledge of UK health and safety regulations regarding driving at work will ensure it is conducted in the best manner possible.

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There are four essential driving for work laws within the UK which contain requirements for both employers and employees involved with driving for work policy. The UK Health and Safety Executive are responsible for enforcing legislation which relates to health and safety in the workplace, which includes driving at work. The police are responsible for enforcing the punishment if an incident occurs on the roads. Therefore, as an employer who hires employees to drive at work, you could be susceptible to prosecution by the police if an incident occurs on the roads following a lack of risk assessment. It is essential for employers and employees to have a well-formed knowledge of the driving for work laws in the UK.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK are responsible for enforcing this law amongst UK employers, because it relates to health and safety in the workplace. This Act states that an employer has a ‘duty of care’ towards its employees. Thus, an employer must ensure their employees are safe whilst driving on the roads. This safety can be ensured by providing driving at work training, maintenance of vehicles and safe journey routes organised by the employer.

The Road Traffic Act 1988

This Act is enforced by the police, because they are responsible for investigating any incidents which occur on the roads in the UK. The Act requires employers and employees to have a sound understanding of the UK Highway Code and have all the relevant certifications to drive. If this Act is not complied with, for example if an employee is caught excessively speeding thus potentially harming those around them, the police will be the body responsible for investigating the incident. Lack of compliance with the Road Traffic Act 1988 could have serious consequences.

The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992

These regulations refer to journeys conducted whilst driving for work. Employers and employees must work together to construct safe, effective journeys to be taken whilst driving at work.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The HSE are responsible for enforcing these regulations and ensuring that UK organisations are remaining compliant with the requirements stated. These regulations require that Risk Assessments must be carried out in the workplace, including when driving at work. Risk assessments for driving at work can include: assessing whether the employees are suitable to drive, whether the employer has provided suitable vehicles and whether the employer has created a safe journey to take, free from unnecessary risks.

What happens when UK employers or employees do not comply with the driving for work laws?

Potentially, employers and employees could face prosecution by both the police and HSE for not complying with driving for work laws, especially if a road traffic incident occurs. This means that the organisation could potentially face fines, reputational damage, and individual prosecutions which could result in imprisonment.

In August 2018 a driver for Eddie Stobart was involved in a road traffic incident in which a pedestrian in his 60s was hit by the Eddie Stobart vehicle in Birmingham. A spokesperson for Eddie Stobart noted that they were supporting the police authorities investigating the situation and were working closely with them to help aid the situation. This altercation brought negative media attention to Eddie Stobart, but it was the employee responsible for hitting a pedestrian who was subsequently prosecuted.

Employers and employees must work together to comply with driving for work laws in order to avoid prosecution by the HSE or the police. To ensure driving for work laws are always complied with, training is essential.

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK are responsible for ensuring driving at work policy is well known and enforced within the workplace. Driving at work policy consists of: the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the Road Traffic Act. The Health and Safety Executive requires employers uphold their legal duty to ensure all driving at work policies are enforced and their employees are well aware of their responsibilities when driving at work.

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide training and communicate driving at work policies around the workplace.

What are the essential aspects of an organisation’s driving at work policy?

Driving at work policy effectively needs to state the employer’s responsibilities regarding driving at work, and the responsibilities of the employees who will be conducting the driving.

A driving at work policy must include the following:

– Conduct a risk assessment which effectively analyses all risks which could be associated with driving at work.

– Initial training for employees who will be driving at work. For example, this could be a day of intense training to ensure the selected employee is effective at driving and is safe to be on the roads.

– Maintenance of vehicles to ensure all vehicles are safe and roadworthy. This should be continually checked to ensure any problems with the vehicles used at work are identified and fixed.

– Organise all of the journeys for all employees so they do not have to take responsibility for this themselves. By planning the routes for employees, all risks can be taken into consideration and all roads and areas which employees are entering can be investigated for risks.

– Ensure you have identified all of the roles involved in driving at work. Do you know all of the employees whose jobs involve driving, even occasionally?

– Make sure you regularly check up on your drivers and their vehicles to assess their performance and whether it is still up to the standard expected by UK health and safety legislation, as well as the employer’s driving at work policy.

– Ensure that you have communicated your driving at work policy well to all employees so that they are aware of their responsibility to report all incidents and problems which occur on the roads.

– Regularly analyse your driving at work policy to decide whether it needs updating.

Driving at work can be a significantly dangerous role to hold within an organisation, and therefore it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure an effective driving at work policy has been established to protect all involved. If an employer does not comply or provide a driving at work policy, the UK Health and Safety Executive will take appropriate steps to punish the organisation. Training and well-formed knowledge of driving at work is essential for both employers and employees.