Fleet managers in the UK should ensure their company drivers are aware of a new careless driving law, advises QBE Insurance Group.

The new offence of ‘Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving’ came into law in the UK this summer under The Police Crime and Sentencing Act 2022.

Before the change in law ­­- on 28 June – if a driver had caused serious injury to another person, they could only be prosecuted for the offence of ‘Careless Driving’, which carries a maximum sentence of a fine along with driving licence penalty points.

The new offence can be dealt with in either a Magistrates’ Court, where the driver can face a one-year sentence, or Crown Court, where a sentence of up to two years can be handed down. In both cases, the convicted driver also faces a ban from getting behind the wheel.

According to QBE, to be convicted the prosecution needs to prove that the driver’s level of driving fell below the required standard, which could be as little as a momentary lapse in concentration.

Recent amendments to the Highway Code created a hierarchy of road users and placed a responsibility on those who can cause the greatest harm to reduce the danger that they pose to others.

“As a result, we may reasonably expect to see an increase in prosecutions under this new offence, especially where the injured party is a vulnerable road user, such as pedestrians and cyclists,” said QBE in a blog.

Police and insurer investigations involving a serious injury will need to gather appropriate evidence, obtain statements, investigate contributory negligence and gather medical evidence. Because of this QBE said businesses should ensure they have adequate processes and policies in place that reflect the changes.

QBE said employees who drive vehicles for work purposes should be advised of the change to the law via staff briefings or toolbox talks and recommended ongoing driver training.