Work-related road safety

1.  Introduction

The Department for Transport has published road casualty figures for 2005 indicating that 15% of the 270,000 casualties were accounted for by work-related journeys (not including commuting, which accounts for another 9%). In its published guidance on the subject, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) makes it clear that it expects employers to manage the risks associated with work-related driving or cycling in the same way as they manage other work-related risks.

The University’s record in respect of work-related traffic incidents is very good, although there are relatively few people whose job description specifies that they must drive or cycle.  In the light of the HSE guidance, it is particularly important to ensure that the risks in those work activities are assessed, but the principles outlined here also apply to occasional driving or cycling for work purposes. The policy does not apply to commuting, except where employees are travelling from home to a workplace that is not their normal place of work.

Because it is difficult to supervise them when they are away from the workplace, it is important to emphasise that employees are responsible for their own and for others’ safety on the road.  They have a duty to comply with the Road Traffic Acts and with the Highway Code when driving or cycling at work.

2.   Departmental action

Departments should ensure that, where necessary, risk assessments are carried out for driving or cycling at work and the significant findings should be documented. In most cases, a generic risk assessment will serve to cover all activities with a particular type of vehicle (departments are not being asked to routinely make assessments for individuals). Departments should also ensure that for departmentally owned motor vehicles and pedal cycles, a suitable routine and ad hoc maintenance regime is in place and is regularly monitored by a responsible person as part of their duties.

3.   Risk assessment

(a)  Departments should ensure that the significant risks involved in work-related driving or cycling activities are assessed. This is not intended to be onerous and it will not need to be complex: its purpose is to help decide whether enough has been done to ensure safe working practices, or whether more needs to be done to prevent harm. Supervisors of those who drive or cycle while at work should follow the familiar ‘five-steps’ approach to risk assessment, i.e.

(i)  identify the hazards (what might cause harm?)

(ii)  decide who might be harmed

(iii)  evaluate the risks and the adequacy of the control measures

(iv)  record the significant findings of the assessment

(v)  review and revise the assessment, especially after an accident or when the circumstances of the original assessment change.

(b)  The following checklists may be helpful in making the assessment:

(i)  What might cause harm?

  • the driver or rider (if unfit to drive through illness, or alcohol or drug use)
  • the vehicle (if unsuitable or poorly maintained)
  • items carried in or attached to the motor vehicle or pedal cycle (if improperly secured, or if they cause instability)
  • the weather (if it causes poor travelling conditions)
  • the journey itself (if it is long, or if there are time pressures).

The experiences of drivers or riders are useful here and should be taken into account

(ii)  Who might be harmed?

  • the driver or rider
  • passengers
  • pedestrians
  • other road users.

(iii)  Evaluate the risks and the adequacy of control measures

  • can the risk be eliminated or transferred? (e.g. can you use another means of transport or a courier)
  • are drivers/cyclists competent to drive/ride? [1] e.g.
  • do they have relevant experience/expertise?
  • are their driving licences/driving entitlements valid? [2]
  • are drivers/cyclists fit to drive/ride? [3]
  • do drivers need any special or additional training, e.g. in areas such as route planning or safe practices and procedures to adopt in the event of an accident or vehicle breakdown?
  • are drivers advised to carry a fully-charged mobile phone with them on all journeys and does the department provide one for that purpose? [4]
  • are University - owned or - leased vehicles suitable for their intended purpose and in good condition?  e.g.
  • what are the departmental arrangements for planned/preventative maintenance and for the reporting of any defects/concerns?
  • are maintenance and repairs carried out to high standards?
  • are manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations followed?
  • can goods or equipment be carried safely in or on the vehicle?
  • do drivers carry out simple checks on tyres, lights, and wipers/washers?
  • are drivers instructed to use and properly adjust vehicle equipment (especially mirrors, seatbelts and head restraints)?
  • are journey patterns (distances/time allowed) realistic?

(iv)  where privately – owned motor vehicles are used on University business

  • are the vehicles insured for business use? [5]
  • if a vehicle is more than three years old, does it have a current MOT certificate?

(v)  where pedal cycles are used

  • are they an appropriate means of transport for the task in hand?
  • are they properly maintained? [6]
  • are they both suitable and properly equipped, if used for carrying loads? [7]
  • do they have front and rear lighting; pedal reflectors; and a rear reflector to BS 6102/2 (or ECE1 or 1A) if used after dark?
  • is appropriate safety equipment available and used (e.g. cycle helmets, bells, high visibility clothing, weatherproof clothing)?
  • are there alternative transport arrangements for bad weather conditions, especially in poor visibility or when roads are icy?

Where cyclists are riding on University business, i.e. with the express or tacit agreement of the department, then the University’s public liability insurances will operate [8]. Cyclists will be indemnified against any third party claim for damages where legal liability can be established.

4.   Medical standards for driving

Licence holders are legally bound to inform the Drivers’ Medical Group of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of any medical condition or disability that may affect their ability to drive. They must also inform them of any new medical condition or disability or if existing ones have become worse since their licence was issued. They must then comply with any DVLA requirements imposed after reporting their condition. All those who drive for a University purpose must also inform their administrator of such special DVLA requirements in order that workplace adjustment can be considered.

The conditions that the DVLA must be informed about and the medical standards which apply vary according to whether the driver’s licence is:

(a)  an ordinary car licence (Group 1)

(b)  any of the following, where additional standards apply

(i)  Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) licence

(ii)  a Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCV) licence

(iii)  a C1 (Medium Goods) Vehicles licence

(iv)  a D1 (Minibus) licence (Group 2)

Further information is available on the DVLA web site. [9] [10]  Advice on medical conditions and their assessment, or recommendations on workplace adjustments, is available from the University Occupational Health Service. [11]


[1] Departments may wish to note that cycle training courses are available - see Cycling.

[2] See for details.

[3] Use of alcohol and some prescription and non-prescription drugs can affect the ability to drive or ride safely and the University Occupational Health Service is able to offer advice on this.

[4] See Memo M21/03 on handheld mobile phones and driving.

[5] See the Insurance Section’s web pages at

[6] Departments may wish to note the cycle maintenance scheme at Cycling.

[7] Grants may be available to assist departments in purchasing load-carrying cycles or trailers. Contact the University Travel Officer (88782) for further details.

[8] The University’s insurances do not operate in the case of cycling for non-University purposes (e.g. commuting).  Cyclists should be aware that third-party cover is often provided through the personal liability section of an individual’s household contents insurance, or through membership of a scheme such as that provided by the Cyclists Touring Club.




January 2007