UK Law’s New Offence: Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving

Driving

On June 28th, 2022, UK law introduced a new offence under the name of “Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving.”

Instead of facing only monetary charges and getting penalty points, careless drivers all over the UK can now face up to two years of imprisonment and disqualification from driving.

This article aims to explain what the new offence brings into the UK legal system, who it impacts the most, and how the risks of serious injuries caused by careless driving can be reduced.

Let’s get right into it.

What Does the New Offence Entail?

With the introduction of a new offence, a careless or inconsiderate driver who’s caused another person a serious injury can face a sentence of up to two years in prison.

To offer a bit of clarification, a driver is considered careless or inconsiderate if their driving is below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver. 

In other words, drivers have to drive in a manner that meets the requisite standard. Going below such standards can lead to prosecution before the Crown Court or a Magistrates’ Court.

Apart from the requirement of carelessness, the injury suffered in such an accident has to be qualified as “serious.”

Injuries are considered serious if they’ve had a major impact on the injured party. This means that both a single catastrophic injury and an accumulation of multiple minor injuries could qualify as serious injuries, as long as they inflict great bodily harm on a person.

As for the reasons the new offence was introduced, there are three main ones to be considered:

  • To reduce the existing large number of careless driving cases in the UK
  • To protect cyclists and pedestrians from serious injuries
  • To increase the usage of public transport

Besides potentially facing imprisonment, a sentenced careless driver can expect to get penalty points, lose their driver’s licence, face substantial fines, and be disqualified from driving at the discretion of the court. 

Who is Impacted the Most by the New Offence?

The new offence is expected to impact all motor vehicle drivers. 

However, most of all, it is expected to impact professional commercial drivers with high mileage and their employers.

Long driving hours are linked with increased levels of exhaustion, which has been linked to more frequent lapses in concentration. That’s why PSV and HGV drivers need to stay compliant with the rules regulating their driving hours. 

As for the measures that employers can take to reduce the risks of careless driving, introducing mobile phone policies and CPC modules to ensure vehicle and personal safety are just some of the options.

How Can Careless Driving Impact Your Business?

If you’re running a business and have commercial vehicles on the road under your company name, you need to know about the ways careless driving can negatively impact your business. 

Here are the top three ways your business can suffer from having a careless driver behind the wheel.  

1. It can damage your company’s reputation

There are multiple ways in which careless driving can damage your firm’s reputation.

One of them is if you’re using a motor vehicle to transport and deliver the goods to your end customers. 

Namely, besides potentially inflicting an injury to another person, your firm’s driver’s careless driving can lead to purchased goods being damaged, delivered with delay, or not delivered at all. 

Apart from that, careless driving can result in speeding through school zones, colliding with another vehicle, and other risky behaviours that will be noticed by other road users – and sometimes the press, too!

You don’t want road accidents to be the first thing that pops up on Google when people search for your company’s name!

2. You could face a lawsuit 

Most commonly, these lawsuits are brought by either:

  • People injured in careless driving accidents; or
  • Unsatisfied customers who’ve had issues with the delivery of their purchased goods

Either way, the word about lawsuits initiated against your company spreads fast. That means that it can ultimately impact your acquisition of new customers and, again, your reputation.

Lawsuits can also lead to unnecessary costs. This is because your company may be bound by a court decision to compensate an injured party for different types of damages in personal injury cases. 

In other words, your company may need to recover a victim for their:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage 
  • Loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life, etc.

3. It can cost you a lot of money

And here, we’re not talking about money you can lose if you face a lawsuit. We’re talking about the money you’ll need to pay for vehicle repairs, maintenance, and payouts for employees’ medical bills.

Poor driving habits can leave indents in more than just your tyres, so you may want to consider investing in path-prediction software such as vehicle tracking programs. 

Apart from that, you must be aware that gas prices have been going off the charts in the past couple of months. 

Speedy driving is known to burn through more fuel, which is becoming more and more of a commodity with each passing day. Why put your business in a situation where it has to pay extra for its drivers’ careless driving? 

Lastly, as an employee, you’ll have to cover a portion of the medical bills and other expenses your employees incur in case they get injured at work due to careless driving by a company driver. 

What Can You Do as an Employer to Mitigate the Risks of Careless Driving?

Earlier in the article, we mentioned how introducing certain policies and installing vehicle tracking devices can help reduce the risks of careless driving.

Apart from that, there are plenty of other modern technologies that can keep your company’s drivers focused on the road.

Some of them are:

  • AI technologies or driving coaches that monitor driver’s behaviour and driving patterns
  • A set of real-time alerts notifying drivers about potential risks
  • Strict policies about taking frequent breaks from driving
  • Eliminating multi-tasking inside the vehicle

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.