Car keys and alcohol representing drink driving

Photo by: James Palinsad is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This time of year means: Christmas parties are booked and cold and flu season beginning employees can forget or be unsure of internal policy. These become particular issues for businesses who run fleets of vehicles or machinery, specifically when it comes to drink and drug driving. According to statistics published by the Department of Transport, showed that in 2015 the total number of drink-drive accidents rose 2% to 5,740 and 180 of those accidents where fatal. It is an unfortunate statistic that some of those were involving company cars with the 2014 RAC Report on Motoring survey showing that 1-in-5 company car drivers admitted to driving with alcohol still in their system.

While the legal limit sets a base tolerance for alcohol in the blood, no matter how little is drunk your ability to drive safely is impeded. It normally takes just over an hour for the body to break down a unit of alcohol, but this can be longer depending on the strength and type of drink consumed. A recent YouGov survey showed that half of the people surveyed believed that it takes less than 6 hours to process 6 units of alcohol, where depending on the type and how fast the body is able to break it down that some people could still be “under-the-influence” the following day.

Keeping these statistics in mind, it is important that companies ensure that employees who both drive for the company and drive as part of their commute to are aware of the effects of drinking. It is especially important for management to take a proactive stance when educating employees as if a member of staff is under-the-influence and causes an accident then the company could be held liable. A positive step is to have a strong company-wide policy and procedures to support and educate all employees ensuring their health, safety and welfare and to ensure that all staff aware.

Additionally, as it is cold and flu season it is vitally important that staff be aware of the effects that some prescription medication can have on their driving and performance at work. The drug driving legislation which was introduced in 2015 places restrictions on the use of 16 drugs while driving (the drugs that come under this legislation can be found here) and carries a one-year driving ban, a heavy fine, and a criminal record.

A key element for managers to remember is that procedures may need to adapt to changes in company resources, culture, and attitudes; as such monitoring of the performance of company drivers through specific Key Performance Indicators throughout the year is paramount to ensure the policies meet the requirements of the company.

While many company drivers know the risks of drink and drug driving and would never do it, however as incidents are still very high alongside recent changes in laws it is important that both management and staff are aware of the risks involved as we head into the festive season.

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