orsa

Occupational Road Safety Alliance

Road Traffic Law

Road Traffic Law Publications

Under various Road Traffic Acts and regulations, employers must ensure that vehicles used for work purposes are safe and legal to be on the road, and that drivers are properly licensed and insured. They can be charged with 'cause or permit' offences if they fail to do so.

Cause or Permit Offences

Road Traffic Act 1988

Regulation 40A Using vehicle in dangerous condition etc

A person is guilty of an offence if he uses, or causes or permits another to use, a motor vehicle or trailer on a road when -

  1. the condition of the motor vehicle or trailer, or of its accessories or equipment, or
  2. the purpose for which it is used, or
  3. the number of passengers carried by it, or the manner in which they are carried, or
  4. the weight, position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured,

Road Traffic Act 1998

is such that the use of the motor vehicle or trailer involves a danger of injury to any person.

Regulation 87 Drivers of motor vehicles to have driving licences

  1. It is an offence for a person to drive on a road a motor vehicle of any class otherwise than in accordance with a licence authorising him to drive a motor vehicle of that class.
  2. It is an offence for a person to cause or permit another person to drive on a road a motor vehicle of any class otherwise than in accordance with a licence authorising that other person to drive a motor vehicle of that class

Regulation 143, Users of motor vehicles to be insured or secured against third-party risks

  1. Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act—
    1. a person must not use a motor vehicle on a road or other public place unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third party risks as complies with the requirements of this Part of this Act, and
    2. a person must not cause or permit any other person to use a motor vehicle on a road or other public place unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that other person such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third party risks as complies with the requirements of this Part of this Act.
  2. If a person acts in contravention of subsection (1) above he is guilty of an offence.
  3. A person charged with using a motor vehicle in contravention of this section shall not be convicted if he proves—
    1. that the vehicle did not belong to him and was not in his possession under a contract of hiring or of loan,
    2. that he was using the vehicle in the course of his employment, and
    3. that he neither knew nor had reason to believe that there was not in force in relation to the vehicle such a policy of insurance or security as is mentioned in subsection (1) above.
  4. This Part of this Act does not apply to invalid carriages.

Read Road Traffic Act 1988.

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003 came into force on 1 December 2003. It bans drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone, or similar device, while driving. It also made it an offence to "cause or permit" a driver to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving, or to use a hand-held mobile phone while supervising a driver who only has a provisional licence.

Amendment of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986

  1. The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 are amended by inserting after regulation 109—

Mobile telephones

    1. No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using—
      1. a hand-held mobile telephone; or
      2. a hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4).
    2. No person shall cause or permit any other person to drive a motor vehicle on a road while that other person is using— 
      1. a hand-held mobile telephone; or
      2. a hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4).
    3. No person shall supervise a holder of a provisional licence if the person supervising is using— 
      1. a hand-held mobile telephone; or
      2. a hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4),
      at a time when the provisional licence holder is driving a motor vehicle on a road.

The penalties were initially a fixed penalty of £30 or a fine of up to £1,000 if the offender goes to court (£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles or passenger carrying vehicles with 9 or more passenger seats). This was increased to £60 and three penalty points from 27 February 2007, and increased again in 2013 to a £100 fine and three penalty points.

If the case goes to court, the penalty on conviction could be disqualification and a maximum fine of up to £1,000, or £2,500 for drivers of buses or goods vehicles.

Hands-free phones

This regulation does not ban the use of hands-free phones, but other laws can be used against drivers who use a hands-free phone while driving, if it impairs their driving. For example, regulation 104 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states "No person shall drive or cause or permit any other person to drive, a motor vehicle on a road if he is in such a position that he cannot have proper control of the vehicle or have a full view of the road and traffic ahead." Careless or dangerous driving laws could also be applied to driving while using a hands-free phone, if the police believe the nature of the driving warrants it.

Read The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003.