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9 Dec 2011

Today the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has launched the sixth edition of its Towing and The Law Guide, which helps business and individuals alike to stay on the right side of the law when towing anything weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. Although we all know what we should be doing when on the roads, complacency can inevitably creep in – we thought it might be time for a quick and helpful reminder of a few of the laws that affect us daily:

  • We raised concerns earlier this year regarding patchy knowledge of the law surrounding fleet managers’ ‘duty of care’ to contract drivers. As a fleet manager, you probably know that it’s your duty to protect your drivers – whether they’re permanent or temporary – from the risk of injury or death. Ensuring that you have the right measures in place can avoid the risk of a hefty compensation pay-out or, even worse, someone being harmed while on the job. Make sure that your contract drivers receive a proper induction and are made aware of any accident-reporting procedures, as well as performing thorough licence checks.
  • Similarly, although widespread industry use of telematics and other tracking devices have already reduced this problem among commercial drivers, you should be wary of tough new penalties that crack down on reckless drivers. Tailgating, inside overtaking and incompetent driving can all earn your drivers an £100 on-the-spot fine as well as putting themselves and other drivers at risk – issues which could easily be avoided with monitoring of excessive fuel consumption (which can be caused by speeding or reckless driving) and proper training. £100 is an expensive slap on the wrist and one that I’m sure we’d all rather avoid!
  • Cheaper than an £100 fine, but similarly against the law, is the humble bag of crisps. A poll that we conducted earlier this year revealed that 26 percent of you illegally eat while you’re behind the wheel. This is a dangerous habit which can severely affect your reaction times and reduce your awareness levels, as well as adding inches to your waistline – affecting your health in more ways than one. Try a healthy packed lunch during your break instead of the junk foods that so many of us are guilty of substituting for sustenance; you’ll feel better and stay on the right side of the law.
  • Finally, as speed cameras in England and Wales usually only record a vehicle’s rear number plate without snapping the driver’s face, it can be tempting to transfer penalty points to someone other than the offending employee who may already have existing points. After all, it’s cheaper to pay the small insurance uplift rather than hire and train a temporary or permanent replacement – right? Wrong! It’s a serious offence to transfer penalty points to another motorist be it friend, family or colleague, and it makes you guilty of perverting the course of justice – don’t do it.

We hope that this serves as a helpful reminder of how to stay safe and legal on the roads. Happy driving!
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