Corporate Manslaughter

Choosing the Right Program
Aug 15/2018 Published by: Lytx Lytx Telematics

When the Corporate Manslaughter Act (and its equivalent in Scotland, the Corporate Homicide Act) came into force in April 2008 it was heralded as a ‘landmark’ in British law. For the first time, companies and organisations in the UK could be found guilty of “corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.”

For companies running fleets or operating in the transport sector, the message is clear: Negligence that leads to death, whether in maintenance, training or driver behaviour, for example, can now result in prosecution.

Yet on the surface the Act seems to have had little effect.

You might hear people say that the Corporate Manslaughter Act has still to secure a meaningful driving-related conviction, implying that it’s nothing to be afraid of. But this doesn’t tell the full story. Because the Act has the power to impose fines related to the guilty company’s financial turnover, the penalties associated with a conviction are potentially so huge that many cases are being settled before legal proceedings begin. Out-of-court settlements will therefore be commensurately high.

With the exception of heavy reliance on the world’s best lawyer, the best guarantee against winding up in court is to improve systems, processes and behaviours. And for companies operating in the transport sector, focus on drivers will pay dividends as the vast majority of traffic incidents involve driver error of some kind.

The causes of incidents that could result in a prosecution often involve specific behavioural trends such as not indicating, traffic violations of a particular type, mobile phone use or sudden lane-changing that could cause passengers to fall.

Myriad ‘solutions’ are available today that claim to reduce such behavioural trends, yet many of these are subject to the same human fallibilities as the habits they are trying to alter. What’s needed to reduce the risk of traffic incidents is a reliable, thorough and systematic way to identify and rectify such common driving faults.

The surest way to avoid accidents, or to understand what happened and who was to blame in the event of a traffic incident, is through the use of video and an associated programme of issue identification and rectification.

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