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Dangerous Driving Life Sentences: How Fleet Managers Should Respond

Jul 13, 2022

Driving for work brings with it many risks. One of which is the potential for you to be involved in a serious road traffic incident. And with recent changes to the maximum possible sentencing for some offences, you could find yourself facing a significant prison sentence if you are found to be culpable.

So, we review the new sentencing guidelines and offences which have been introduced and the implications these could have for you as a driver as well as fleet managers and operators.

New sentencing guidelines

Changes were made to sentencing guidelines under The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act on the 28th June 2022. Likely to be of particular interest to you if you drive for a living or are a fleet manager are the following changes:

  • Increasing the maximum penalty to life for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving
  • Increasing the maximum penalty to life for the offence of causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving

What these changes to sentencing guidelines could mean for you

If you drive for a living, operate a fleet or are a fleet manager, you’ll be looking at these changes seriously we would imagine. For the first time, there is now a possibility that drivers could be sentenced to life in prison when involved in a serious road traffic incident.

Drivers who are convicted under the new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving face much tougher sentences. Whilst previously incidents of these types would have often been punishable by a fine or points on a licence, a prison sentence is now to be expected as well as a disqualification from driving.

If you are an HGV driver or commercial vehicle driver, or work with these drivers, consider the implications of recent changes to the Highway Code. This saw the introduction of a hierarchy of road users, ensuring those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others. This could be another contributory factor in the severity of the sentence that drivers receive.

If you aren’t aware of the changes, then we would highly recommend getting up to date on them. In particular, the new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving – this piece from our legal partner DAC Beachcroft gives a comprehensive overview of this offence.

Educate your drivers on the sentencing guideline changes

As a fleet manager, educating your drivers on these changes will be vital. Make sure they have a firm grasp of the different offences and the types of driving behaviour that would be classed as dangerous or careless. This will enable you to uphold your duty of care whilst also demonstrating that you manage risks to your drivers.

Remember, your business could also be under investigation if one of your drivers is involved in a fatal accident. Did practices within your business encourage dangerous or careless driving behaviour? Review the drivers’ policies and procedures that you have in place. Re-educate again about mobile phone use and use of technology whilst driving etc as these can be considered as contributors to careless driving.

As an employee, ask yourself, has your employer discussed these changes with you? And do you have a grasp of what would happen if you were involved in a serious road traffic incident? How quickly would your employer provide legal representation to you for example? All these factors can influence the outcome of any investigation into an accident you may be involved in.

At Anthony Jones we view risk management as a vital part of the service that we provide. We work closely with DAC Beachcroft, our legal partner to provide legal representation in the event of an incident. And with Cardinus who are a global risk and safety partner for Fleet Risk Management services. For more information on how we can help you and your fleet if you are reviewing your commercial motor insurance at this time do get in touch with us on 020 8290 9099 or email us at commercial.motor@anthonyjones.com.

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