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DRIVING AT WORK

New legal pitfalls for those driving at work 

Motorists who cause death whilst ‘avoidably distracted’ at the wheel could now face prison under new careless driving laws which come into force on Monday 18 August 2008. The new offences will allow courts to imprison drivers who cause deaths by not paying due care to the road, or to other road users. Avoidable distractions which courts will consider are:

  • using a mobile phone (calling or texting);
  • drinking and eating; 
  • applying make-up and; 
  • anything else a court judges to have been an avoidable distraction

The independent Sentencing Guidelines Council published definitive guidelines on sentencing for death by driving offences in July of this year.

Comment: The construction sector relys heavily upon persons driving at work. Individual drivers need to be aware of these changes and the potential consequences of what for some drivers may be ‘normal’ behaviour at present. Employers should publicise these changes to employees and particularly to those who drive as part of their work duties. Where a death occurs the police may consider what steps the employer took to train and instruct those driving at work and the extent to which poor practices were known and condoned.

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