The announcement yesterday by The Sentencing Council of much harsher penalties for serious speeding offences appears to be the latest in a trend of much tougher sentences for drivers imposed by the government. From April, if a driver is caught travelling at 41mph in a 20mph zone or 51mph in a 30mph zone they’ll face fines of up to 150% of their weekly income compared to the existing 100% limit. These new guidelines have been hailed by many road safety campaigners
The increase in speeding fines follows hot on the heels of harsher penalties announced for mobile phone use behind the wheel. If caught, drivers now face the prospect of receiving six points on their licence and a £200 fine. The significance of this move was brought into sharp focus by the findings of a recent survey by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line that revealed more than half of 25-34-year-olds admit to having read or sent a text on their phone whilst driving.
The message to fleet operators is clear. These incremental rises in fines and licence point penalties reinforces the need for effective road risk management.
Employers have a legal duty of care responsibility to ensure that all company drivers have full and legal driving licence documents permitting them to drive on company business. Moreover, only through regular licence checking can recently added points be picked up and documented to ensure that they do not affect legal driving status. Failings in this area can have serious legal repercussions for the employer, including Corporate Manslaughter prosecutions should fatal accidents occur.
A successful risk screening policy also enables drivers with points to be provided with targeted driver training – a proven approach for improving driver skills –, reducing collisions, future risk and costs of accidents.
A risk management programme implemented by Fleet Operations for one of its clients, for example, achieved a reduction in high risk drivers by 22% and medium risk drivers by 35%. This has led to a halving of accident costs in two years and a 34% reduction in driver fault accidents.
With the clampdown on driver offences continuing apace, such measures to effectively manage risk are more important than ever