Vehicles driven on public roads

Vehicles for work

What you need to know as an employer to make sure that vehicles and drivers are safe at all times

Vehicles are used for a wide range of tasks at work, and as an employer, you need to make sure that vehicles driven in connection with work and the drivers using these vehicles are safe at all times.  Employees also have a responsibility to act within the law and not endanger themselves or other people by their actions, this includes when driving any vehicle as part of their work.  There are different ways to describe vehicles used at work:

Workplace transport – vehicles used on work sites, for example

  • forklift trucks
  • autonomous vehicles
  • construction and agricultural vehicles (that don't travel on the public road)
  • car, vans and lorries within a workplace e.g. in a delivery area or car park.

Vehicles driven for work on the public road, for example

  • cars
  • vans
  • lorries
  • motorcycles
  • construction and agricultural vehicles (that do travel on public roads).

What are the common hazards?

There are a number of hazards that are common to most work related driving situations, such as

  •  having new or inexperienced drivers, driving work vehicles of any kind
  •  using the wrong vehicle, or "making do" with a vehicle that isn't suitable for the job
  •  using a vehicle that isn't properly maintained, MOT'ed or insured
  •  allowing members of staff to use a vehicle without assessing their abilities and providing suitable training
  •  the health of the driver having an impact on their ability to drive or do the job safely
  •  the driving activity and other elements of the job having an adverse effect on the health of the driver
  • not having clear policies and procedures covering all work vehicles, meaning staff may not be clear on their roles and responsibilities when driving
  • distraction
  • inappropriate speed
  • driver fatigue.
  1. Workplace transport on-site
  2. Vehicles driven on public roads

2. Vehicles driven on public roads

Different vehicles are used for many different types of job on the public roads.  Some workers will be driving a vehicle provided by their employer and others will be using their own vehicle for work purposes.  As an employer you must be aware of every driver who uses vehicles for work, this can be

  • carrying out deliveries of service jobs
  • transporting people or equipment
  • driving between jobs or appointments
  • driving to a meeting or a conference
  • volunteers who use their car to support your organisation.

Many of your workers will probably not consider themselves to be professional drivers and are using the road to get to a place where they will carry out their "real job". These workers are still "at work drivers" and need to work in a safe manner just as they would in a recognised workplace. The introduction to the "Driving risks at work" dvd (external site) will give you an overview of what you need to think about.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve somebody who is at work at the time. This may account for 100 fatalities in Scotland per year. 

Hazards on the public roads that employers should be aware of and take steps to manage include, driving

  • at speed
  • when tired
  • with distractions in the vehicle (other passengers, phones or equipment)
  • when under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including the morning after)
  • when using prescribed or over the counter medication
  • in bad or changeable weather
  • to unrealistic schedules and working patterns
  • with insufficient time allowed to take proper breaks
  • with long-term health problems like failing eyesight, persistent back pain, etc.

Reducing the risks from driving at work

Having assessed the risks from driving for work, there are a number of controls that you can put in place to make driving safer, including you

  • select company vehicles and allocate driving duties carefully
  • make sure your drivers are fully trained, appropriately licensed and competent for the vehicle they will use
  • consider whether face-to-face meetings are necessary – could telephone or video conferencing be used instead?
  • consider whether driving is the only option – could staff walk, cycle or use public transport? Could a delivery service be used instead?
  • avoid setting unrealistic delivery schedules or deadlines, which may encourage speeding or taking shortcuts
  • have a clear policy on checking drivers' licenses and insurances, and maintenance records for all vehicles used for work
  • make it clear drivers should not use mobile phones whilst driving. If this is unavoidable, they must be provided with an appropriate hands-free set
  • create a feedback system for drivers to report any incidents or issues they face whilst driving for work
  • undertake activities to improve the health of your drivers.

Carry out your risk assessment

Workers using own vehicles (grey fleet)

Many organisations, including charitable and voluntary groups expect employees and volunteers to use their own vehicles to carry out business. In these cases, the employee is required to ensure that their insurance covers the use of the vehicle not just for 'social, domestic and pleasure purposes', but also in connection with their work and that the vehicles are maintained in a road worthy condition.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, has produced a useful guide on this topic.

Read about Driving for Work – Using Own Vehicles (external download; 561 KB)