Unlicensed motorists are to be subject to tougher criminal convictions in the coming years following an announcement from justice secretary Chris Grayling, and employers could be found liable too.
The minister has put forward new proposals for the extension of jail terms for those who cause death while unlicensed and in charge of a vehicle, as well as the introduction of a new offence for those who cause serious injury.
At present, individuals whose actions lead to a fatality face sentences of no more than two years in prison, but this is to be extended to ten years from early 2015. Meanwhile, there is currently no specific offence for unlicensed drivers who cause serious injury, but this too will be addressed.
Employers can also be found liable if their drivers are not correctly licenced when driving for business purposes. Employers have corporate obligations to confirm their employees driving entitlement and risk a fine under the Corporate Manslaughter Legislation if they neglect this check.
In the event of a worst-case scenario, where a fatal incident has occurred involving an employee driving on company business without a valid licence, the employer would be required to provide evidence of the policies and procedures in place to try and prevent such an occurrence.
A poor policy or substandard implementation could lead to an element of responsibility falling on the company or its relevant managers/directors under Duty of Care obligations. The best defence is, therefore, a robust and well-managed policy, which checks that all employees hold a valid licence and are eligible to drive the vehicles being used for company business. Companies can save time and money by using an online driver licence checking system. Scott McCullow, sales manager at MileageCount, details how such a service works: “Our system ensures all your drivers’ licences are valid using advanced IT systems backed by high speed data links with the DVLA, and provides a range of links and reports to ensure problems have been highlighted before it is too late. This service can prove invaluable for fleet managers.”