Until now there was no official offence of ‘causing serious injury by careless driving’; consequently, when a careless driver causes serious injury, they could only be prosecuted for the offence of ‘careless driving’. However, the law has just got tougher for inattentive drivers whose actions result in injury to others. The new offence of ‘causing serious injury by careless driving’ (DVLA conviction code CD33) was introduced on 28 June 2022, as part of the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act. It aims to close a perceived loophole in the difference between punishing ‘careless’ versus ‘dangerous’ driving. The new Act places greater emphasis on the extent of the injury rather than the extent of the carelessness and attaches harsher penalties the more significant the injury. The new law applies to both private and commercial vehicle drivers.
How is careless driving defined?
Careless driving is deemed as that which falls below the required standard of a ‘competent and careful driver’ (section 3ZA of the Road Traffic Act 1988). Examples of this include displaying a lack of concentration or avoidable distraction. Dangerous driving (section 2A) refers to driving which falls far below the expected standard. This could include being distracted whilst using a handheld phone at the wheel.
How will the new offence be punished?
Previously, an individual convicted of causing serious injury through careless driving would face a summary only offence; that is, disqualification and an unlimited fine.
Under the new law, there’ll be increased penalties, with judges able to hand down lengthy custodial sentences, as well as extended driving bans for the most extreme cases where ‘really serious bodily harm’ has occurred.
What does this mean for employers?
Employers will want to consider measures which mitigate against the risk of careless driving among their workforce. This may include communicating a clear ‘driving at work’ policy, which lays out rules around driving using mobile phones and handsfree kits and clear direction on frequency and length of rest breaks. It may also be appropriate to roll out safe driving programmes for employees who drive on company business.
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This article was adapted from an article by Allianz which can be found here.