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Corporate Manslaughter Act has 'made no difference'

Date: 30 July 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

The threat of the Corporate Manslaughter Act has made absolutely no difference to fleets and employees driving for business, according to risk experts. Simon Elstow, manager of the IAM's Drive and Survive corporate driver training service, told BusinessCar that companies with at-work drivers had paid no attention to the legislation whatsoever, and were leaving themselves open to huge risks.

"[The act] just did not make the slightest bit of difference I don't think. It hasn't been a player really. It doesn't seem to have made big impact at all," he said.

"The big risk for business drivers is that it hasn't really got through. We're all crossing our fingers and hoping 'it won't happen here'."

Managing director at Fleet Risk Consultants, Nigel Grainger, added: "Corporate Manslaughter should have had some effect but because prosecutors are too incompetent to prosecute for it, it's not been done.

"There are three deaths a week from drivers at work on the road. Even if you said two a week, that's at least 200 fatals since [the act] came in."

He continued: "If a driver is doing something on company business and they've not been told whether he could or couldn't do it then that's gross negligence.

"Let's be generous and say you put a good risk management system in place for £1000, it's the difference between that and, say, £250,000 of litigation.

"I'm seeing a few more policies floating around [that address it] but no one's ringing me up saying 'I'm worried about the Corporate Manslaughter Act'. Instead, it's 'I'm worried about my fuel bill.' or 'I've got a vehicle tow bar without a tacho.'"

Elstow claimed that the concept of passing the driving test was a hindrance to working drivers, who generally view further training as another test and as something they don't really need to do.

"We're still living in a test-based culture", he said. "We all say 'you really learn to drive after you pass your test' but you don't have to do any more training.

"On a test, you don't have the normal stresses you would when you're driving for work, like if your line manager says to you 'can you turn around and go and see this guy, and can you put your foot down because he's only going to be there for another half an hour'."

He continued: "Testing people doesn't work because there are no preventative measures. A lot of people just don't get what preventative driver training is - they just don't understand it. People associate the idea of training with being tested. They think 'I don't need to be tested because I've already passed'."

He claimed that a change in the way in which both the test and driving for work in general are perceived would bring results to improving safety and better attitudes to corporate driving in the UK. 

"The psychology of driving hasn't caught up with other things in terms of keeping us fit and well. It's like having your five a day - everyone understands what that means now but 10 or 15 years ago they probably wouldn't have."