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A recent fatal crash involving an articulated lorry and two cyclists in Cornwall has led a former TRL investigator to warn senior managers of transport companies regarding their potential liability. Edward Handley, now the owner of Work-Related Road Safety Solutions, told Fleet News UK that it would only take one successful prosecution for corporate manslaughter to open the floodgates of prosecutions against senior managers.

So, what is the LGV manager’s responsibility in this area? Managers are required by law to control their drivers in order to prevent them from breaking the rules governing their work. For example, the rules stipulate drivers must not drive for more than nine consecutive hours in a given day. A mandatory rest period of 11 consecutive hours is also required. It is the responsibility of managers to check tachograph data to ensure drivers are obeying the law.

In the case of the Cornwall accident, there was an additional complication. The lorry driver was an overnight driver who fell asleep at the wheel before striking the two cyclists at approximately 8:30 in the morning. He fell asleep because he was exhausted, after spending portions of the previous day doing maintenance work for his employer. The senior management of his company could now be held liable and prosecuted for corporate manslaughter for not forcing the driver to get his mandatory 11 hours of rest.

According to Handley, there have been a number of previous cases that should be cause for concern among transport managers. He cites a number of them in which managers have been jailed right along with drivers for failing to ensure those they were supervising were following the rules. He suggests there is a strong possibility that the manager in the Cornwall case could be similarly prosecuted and punished.

Don’t Ignore Rest

The most important take away from this story is one of how important rest is. It should not be ignored, by either drivers or management. It is the LGV manager’s responsibility to ensure that drivers are not exceeding the nine hour daily limit and, as much as possible, that they are also getting their mandated 11 hours of rest.

As a driver, you should also be paying attention to this yourself. The fact that a manager is not looking over your shoulder is no excuse to exceed the nine-hour limit. You need to rest in order to be fresh at all times. It only takes one incidence of fatigue to cause an accident that result in tragic consequences.

At the HGV centre, we cannot stress the ideas of safety and regulatory compliance enough. We spend a lot of time addressing these two points with our students. We are committed to producing the best drivers in the industry, and that is not possible without a heavy focus on safety and compliance.

For all your commercial driver-training needs, feel free to contact us at the HGV Training Centre. We work with both individual and fleet drivers.

Sources:

Fleet News UK – https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/blog/entry/risk-senior-management-could-face-prosecution-following-double-fatal/53557/

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