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Business car drivers should take regular breaks

Regular driving breaks – critical to duty of care

Court case exposes need for road risk strategy

An employee, paralysed in an accident, has been awarded interim damages of £400,000.

He had fallen asleep at the wheel. He had worked excessive hours before driving home.

The court case has highlighted the importance of managing work-related road risk, including long hours. Small businesses are not exempt.

His final award – likely to be in excess of £1million – will be reduced by 33 per cent because of his own contributory negligence. He was not wearing a seatbelt; and knew he was at risk of falling asleep after working 19 hours.

“Employers have a clear duty to ensure the safety of their employees, who drive as part of their job,” commented Roger Bibbings, occupational safety adviser, RoSPA.

“Fatigue is a major cause of road crashes. Firms should ensure that workers are not expected to drive too far in a day.”

A travel survey found that 40% of small businesses offering cash instead of a company car failed to make regular safety checks.

“Car rental is an alternative to staff using private cars on business,” said Frank Reynolds, SME specialist, National Car Rental.

“The cars are reliable and fully maintained. This would assist small businesses in their duty of care responsibilities. Renting vans in the same way can also assist businesses meet peaks in demand. It provides employees with fit for purpose vehicles.”

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