Last year there were over 90,000 people convicted of drink driving in the UK alone, and nearly 200 deaths caused by driving whilst under the influence of drugs. With such staggering figures, it comes as no surprise that in 2015 we have seen some radical but necessary amendments to UK driving laws.
In this article, we are going to outline the possible consequences these could have on your business, as well as any measures fleet managers can take to prevent legal complications.
With over 90,000 convicted drunk drivers in 2014 and around 3000 resulting severe injuries or fatalities, being intoxicated whilst behind the wheel can get you banned from driving, heftily fined or even put in prison. Repeating offenders will be classified as “High Risk” and will not automatically qualify to receive their driving licence back after the ban is lifted and will have to pass medical exams in order to be deemed responsible enough to drive again.
With regards to drug law in the UK, there have been some significant changes that have happened over the last year. With around 200 deaths caused by driving under the influence of substances such as Cannabis, Cocaine, and Ecstasy, as of March 2nd, the authorities will have permission to arrest you if you are driving with certain levels of even some legal, prescription drugs in your bloodstream, such as the anxiety medications Oxazepam and Diazepam. Even if you are considered to be in poor health, some medicinal drugs can have a negative effect on your driving and a list can be found on the Gov website here.
With much harsher regulations in place are these the only drug driving deterrents being introduced? On March 2nd, the government also sanctioned Drugwipe – an on the spot, mobile drug-testing device capable of detecting cannabis and cocaine in a drivers system in 10 minutes, just from a sample of saliva. This new roadside screening process will make it far easier to prosecute drivers but what does it all mean for your business?
Apart from the bad press surrounding an employee being convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it can have a significant impact on insurance premiums too. Convicted drivers are also less likely to get insured and with a criminal record can have trouble working overseas.
What procedures can I establish?
Ensure your drivers are fully aware of the consequences of drunk/drug driving and that your company has a zero tolerance policy. Consider reviewing employment contracts to include drug and alcohol policy clauses. Perform regular tests for drug and alcohol abuse too. There are several reputable companies who offer testing services, and often includes all the warnings signs fleet managers need to be aware of to recognise signs of abuse, and also how to approach the staff. Ensure you create company policies that outline your position on the matter, but also that you are prepared to educate and support employees with mandatory compliance training and coaching.
Taking these step will reduce the chances of your employees abusing substances and driving and if demonstrated to your insurer will safeguard your current and future premiums. If will also help reduce the legal accountability your company can hold should the worst occur as you have done everything in your power to stop it happening.
It’s possible that your new guidelines may entail a complete review of employment contracts to ensure that you have included drug and alcohol testing in their terms. It’s important to note that if you don’t declare this from the outset, there can be severe legal implications for your business.