Vehicle Tracking Systems Fulfil UK Duty of Care Laws

by Commercial Blawg on September 21, 2012

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The following is a legal post from a business and finance writer in the UK.

Under tort law, Duty of Care is a legal obligation that employers in the UK must carry out in order to ensure the reasonable safety of their employees and others that could be affected by their actions. This is particularly prevalent for staff that drive on company business. All businesses must now comply with duty of care obligations to ensure that their drivers are as safe as possible on the roads. If an employee is in an accident that could have been avoided, the company could find themselves liable. Proof that duty of care has been initiated will then be needed to ensure that the company was compliant at the time of the accident.

There are many ways companies can ensure they have addressed their duty of care obligations, including carrying out risk assessments and providing further training to their drivers. However, one increasingly effective way that fleet managers are tackling this issue is by installing comprehensive tracking systems – called telematics – into their vehicle fleets. Many vehicle manufacturers are installing telematics into vehicles before bringing them to market, as this feature is becoming increasingly important to employers when selecting a fleet. Those looking for car finance on multiple vehicles could find initial costs of vehicles with telematics is slightly higher, but the overall benefits to cost, safety and legality requirements are huge.
Telematics combines satellite (GPS) tracking with wireless connectivity to enable communication from the vehicle straight back to the fleet office. Telematics systems are used to track the location of employee vehicles and record driving times, driving habits and routes taken. This system then provides an accurate log to the office that can prove the employer is complying with duty of care obligations. If, for example, any bad driving habits are identified, these can be addressed directly with the driver before they become a problem.
The end of lengthy audits

Businesses are liable for the safety of their employees while driving on business, as well as ensuring that they are driving within the law. One offence that is often being committed by drivers is the use of mobile phones while driving. Telematics can identify if a phone is being used in a vehicle and can relay this back to the fleet manager. This would then be the employer’s responsibility to address this issue with the driver under duty of care obligations.

Duty of care has, until recently, presented businesses – particularly SMEs – with a plethora of problems. Small companies, for example, do not have the time or resources to carry out extensive check and continuous audits on employees to ensure they are compliant.

Effective fleet management 

Telematics systems provide a solution to time and resource constraints, as they instantly provide the business with all data needed to protect both the company and the workers. Such is the effectiveness of telematics systems, it was reported this summer that 50% of large businesses are now using them on their vehicles in an effort to meet their duty of care obligations, and reduce the risks associated with running a fleet. The report, by fleet management provider, ALD, which provides a range of guaranteed car finance options for businesses, surveyed financial directors, controllers and financial officers from 100 businesses with over 1,000 staff.

Driving hours

Driving hours are another factor that an employer must adhere to. If it is found, after an accident, that an employee was driving more than the statutory maximum hours per day, the employer could be prosecuted. However, this total driving time does not include breaks, so monitoring the exact time spent on the road used to be difficult. Telematics systems can log the exact minute the employee starts driving, the exact minute they take their breaks, and the exact minute they log off at their final destination.

Health and safety
Telematics systems are also excellent training tools for drivers. The systems can flag up harmful habits such as heavy steering, swerving, accelerating and breaking. This enables companies to provide feedback to their employees, managing driver behavior and issuing further training if needed. This contributes, in turn, to the overall safety of drivers and other road users.

As duty of care obligations become more prevalent, businesses are increasingly using telematics systems to enhance their entire fleet management operations. As such, an increasing number of vehicles are being fitted with top-of-the-range telematics devices as the main vehicle manufacturers realise that these features are fast becoming essentials to many companies.

Commercial Blawg

Commercial Blawg

Business law blogger at CommercialBlawg
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Commercial Blawg
Commercial Blawg

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