The importance of maintenance for your duty of care

Driver responsibilities

In our last blog, we started talking about the importance of duty of care and your legal responsibilities relating to the driver. In this second part, we’re going to look at vehicles.

There are some fundamental points to bear in mind around choosing company cars and vans and then maintaining them. It is worth bearing in mind that these apply to any vehicles that are used on business, even if they are owned by your employees.

When deciding which vehicles to operate, they must be considered suitable for the job in hand and meet the needs of drivers. This has a wide variety of implications. For example, if you have a driver who is covering 20,000 miles a year, then a supermini might not be considered adequate. Similarly, if someone carries samples or equipment, they might need an estate car. The appropriateness of commercial vehicles is generally even more important and they must be suitable for the equipment or goods that they need to move around.

Having provided the right vehicle, you must also ensure that they are properly maintained. This is generally accepted to mean in line not only with legal standards such as having a current MOT certificate but with individual manufacturer’s recommendations.

Additionally, everyday maintenance checks need to be made on a very regular basis, with many fleet experts recommending a daily walkaround by the driver that covers basics such as the condition of tyres, fluid levels and more. These are especially important for commercial vehicle operators because they can form part of your licensing requirements.

In the unfortunate event of any serious road accident occurring and some form of formal investigation being launched, you need to be able to prove that all of these maintenance actions have been undertaken, so it is essential that your maintenance processes are auditable.

In part three of this series, we’ll be looking at applying duty of care to journey planning, an area that has become more interesting in recent years thanks to technology.

As mentioned in the previous post, it’s critical to underline that we only have the space to cover duty of care here in the broadest terms. Employers should certainly seek out expert advice when it comes to making their own arrangements.


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