The Highway Code – which applies throughout England, Scotland and Wales, and which applies to ALL road users, including the self-employed and those employees who are sent out to use them on behalf of their employers, whether they are riding a bicycle, riding / steering an animal with or without a drawn vehicle, riding or driving a motorised vehicle of any description or even if they are pedestrians who need to cross a road – has been updated with the changes effective from 29th of January 2022.
The aim of the Highway Code is to promote safety on the road, whilst also supporting a healthy, sustainable and efficient transport system.
Cutting the number of incidents – especially those resulting in injuries or fatalities – that occur on the roads EVERY DAY – is a responsibility we all must share.
Whilst many of the rules within the Code are legal requirements, i.e. “must / must not,” which, if ignored, will mean a road user is committing a criminal offence, some are only advisory, so the code should be regarded as essential reading and not just for when a road user needs to pass any relevant driving test or exam.
This will keep ALL road users up to date with their legal responsibilities as well as keeping road users, even pedestrians walking close to a road, SAFE.
The Highway Code can be and is used as evidence in criminal court proceedings regarding road or traffic Acts, to establish liability, and this will include rules which use advisory wording such as “should / should not” or “do / do not.”
Review your Risk Assessments
Even if the criminal part of the legal system is not interested in giving a rider / driver a fine, penalty points on their driving licence, disqualifying them from driving or even sending them to prison, insurers can use it to determine fault and or mitigate payments. Furthermore anyone, a member of the public or a business, can bring a civil action or claim through the courts if they feel they have a claim or justice needs to be served.
Employers should look to the tasks they allot to their employees and where they have not already done so, conduct a risk assessment to determine the hazards and risks associated with their companies’ driving activities OR review their standing risk assessment to ensure it is still a true reflection of their undertakings. This should then be followed up by the implementation or reinforcement of any control measures put in place to reduce risk such as:
- Providing Policies – Driving for Work Policy, Drug – Alcohol Policy, other policies as applicable to your company;
- Issuing / Implementing Procedures – start of employment checks which should include checking that any required driving licenses are valid (in date / appropriate for the vehicle to be used / within any points limit set by employer or insurer); a practical test of driving skills (if required) and that the driver has a sufficient knowledge of safe working practices (has knowledge of the Highway Code).
A re-evaluation of driving skills / driver confidence after incidents / accidents etc.
The checking of an employee’s car if they use it for business purposes, i.e. that it is suitable for the task, effectively maintained (MOT’d if old enough) and correctly insured for business use.
Continuing regular checks of driving licenses, MOT’s and insurance documents.
- Introducing SSoW – conducting of vehicle checklists, fault reporting or fault management, route planning, combating tiredness / fatigue, forbidding the use of handheld equipment etc.;
- Providing training – familiarisation of vehicle(s) to be used, how to manage accidents and other form filling duties, company driving procedures and SSoW, further driving exams such as Institute for Advanced Motorists (IAM);
- Monitoring of acquiescence – revision and reissue of procedures regularly, checking that vehicles are maintained and kept in roadworthy condition, further regular checks of driving licences and driving standards are being maintained etc.
Greater Responsibility for the Employee
Be aware that your employee, who may be in charge of a vehicle that can cause the greatest harm if a collision occurs, might now bear a greater responsibility to have taken care and reduce the danger they posed to others, with the responsibility possibly capable of being applied vicariously to the employer. This principle of greater responsibility applies in the following order;
- Drivers of large or heavy goods vehicles;
- Drivers of passenger carrying vehicles; coaches, buses, minibuses;
- Drivers of vans, taxis and cars;
- Animal drawn vehicles, riders
None of this detracts from the responsibility that ALL road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders need to have with regard for their own, and other road users’ safety.
All road users should also remember that people who can be encountered may have a disability such as impaired sight, loss of hearing or be suffering from mobility issues (particularly pedestrians), which may not be obvious.
Now is the time to look at your driving / driver related risk assessments, associated policies, procedures and SSoW to ensure they are up to date and continue to be relevant to the company’s tasks / activities as well as encompassing all of the people who may be at risk because of them.
If this alert has raised questions or you need to discuss any other health & safety related issue do not hesitate to contact your health & safety consultant or the main office for advice or help.