Fleet transport insurance broker, McCarron Coates, has launched a service offering hauliers protection against the risk of prosecution under new HGV driving rules.
The move follows changes to the Highway Code in 2022 establishing a hierarchy of road users, in which HGV drivers were deemed responsible for the safety of all other road users, with the vehicle’s place in the hierarchy considered when penalties are being handed out.
Under the new rules, an HGV driver is far more likely than a car driver to incur a serious penalty for causing an injury in a collision that resulted from a lack of concentration or bad driving habits.
McCarron Coates said that since the introduction of these changes there has been an increase in prosecutions under the offence of “Causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving” and the 2022 changes to the Highway Code.
The company warns that given the very broad definition of “careless or inconsiderate driving” in legal terms, even causing a broken arm in a collision could be deemed a serious injury, which could result in a prison sentence for an HGV driver.
In response to these tougher penalties for HGV drivers the Leeds-based broker is offering operators an additional layer of protection, dubbed the RTC Crisis Line, which is offered in conjunction with legal specialists, LMP Legal.
Under the service, if a driver is involved in a blue-light road traffic collision, one call to the RTC Crisis Line will immediately provide round the clock access to lawyers, offering legal advice and representation. Should the driver be taken to a police station, it also instantly triggers a lawyer’s attendance there.
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The company said this provides protection during the “golden minutes” in which a case can be won or lost, and can prevent a driver from unwittingly incriminating themselves, by saying something later used against them.
Drivers covered by the policy are not put in a position in which they effectively admit blame, whilst actually just in shock and trying to process events, the company said.
In addition the early dialogue with the police, which the service affords, ensures the legal expert appointed through RTC Crisis Line receives critical information quickly, rather than at the end of the criminal investigation, when it can be too late to successfully argue a case.
“This can both control claims costs and prevent a custodial sentence for driver or employer,” the company added.
McCarron Coates director, Ian McCarron, said: “We have had our finger on the pulse of the new legislation and were concerned about its impacts on fleets.
“Having drivers unavailable, whilst attending police interviews and court hearings, not to mention the threat of them being off the road because of a prison sentence, is a nightmare, particularly in a sector continually suffering from driver shortages.
“However, such scenarios can often be avoided, if a fleet can prevent drivers falling into a legal trap at the roadside. This is why we are offering all clients instant legal representation for any driver involved in a collision that is attended by the police.”
He added: “HGV and courier drivers can find themselves in the dock more than other drivers, so need greater protection now. RTC Crisis Line is what all fleets need, to try to safeguard their drivers from prison sentences and also avoid heavy fines.”