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UK – Business directors risk corporate manslaughter over illegal company drivers

15 May 2012

New statistics suggest that there are 24,000 people driving illegally for companies in the UK as British company directors risk corporate manslaughter and Health and Safety charges, with unlimited fines and publicity orders every time an illegal driver gets behind the wheel.

According to Licence Bureau, the UK authority on driver qualifications carrying out the research, 1 in every 300 licences was invalid in 2011. It warned that over a thousand fatalities a year on British roads involve someone at work.

The Bureau said these statistics were “shocking” as it has been estimated that up to a third of all road traffic incidents involve somebody who is at work at the time, accounting for more than 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week.

“Driving is the most dangerous activity that most employees undertake as part of their working day.  Time and time again we see drivers that have made false statements to their employers about their licences. When you consider the number of hours and number of miles a person does when driving for business you can understand why we say that the ‘road risk’ is magnified by 5 fold,” said Malcolm Maycock, chief executive of Licence Bureau.

He urged all companies based in the UK “to help play a part in making the nation’s roads a safer place by checking the validity of their drivers’ documents. In the long run they will be protecting their business interest as well as protecting the safety of others.”

Licence Bureau also discovered that of the non-compliant drivers that they checked 43% were driving on a provisional licence, 31% were on a revoked licence and 9% were disqualified. 

“Checking driver licences is the most basic step in ensuring that drivers are safe on the road, and an absolutely fundamental part of being an ethically responsible business. By ignoring this responsibility, organisations place themselves at risk under the corporate manslaughter act, with huge financial and legal ramifications,” warned Martin Howard, spokesperson at the road safety charity Brake.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, which came into force from 6 April 2008 means that the employer is responsible for ensuring safety on the road – this includes checking all drivers are licenced to drive. Companies must ensure they have a robust process, procedure and audit related to work related road safety. The new law allows prosecution for gross failures in the management of health and safety within a company as a whole when it results in a death.

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