by Jo Mills, Vispack®

Driving is perhaps one of the most dangerous things most of us do on a daily basis; on average, nine people die every day on UK roads.

When we are driving, we feel secure in the environment of the car and don’t think of the possible dangers that lie ahead. What many people don’t realise is, that the majority of deaths happen once the passengers have exited the vehicle at the side of the road, statistics prove a staggering one in five people who die on roads are on foot.

These statistics alone show the moral and social responsibility each driver has to protect themselves, their passengers and other road users while out and about on the roads. Having to exit your car due to a collision or an unforeseen circumstance puts you at immediate risk to other road users who will be unaware of you on the roadside.

Wearing a reflective vest is essential and enables other road users to easily identify you. Although it is not yet a legal requirement within the UK, in many European countries, such as France, Italy, Spain and Belgium, wearing a reflective vest is compulsory if the driver and/or passenger(s) exit a vehicle immobilised on the carriageway. Countries that have adopted the requirements for a high visibility vest are not only fining drivers for not wearing the vest in the appropriate situation, but are also carrying out on-the-spot vehicle checks, drivers found without a high visibility vest are being fined there and then.

Nick Mills, managing director at Vispack, comments “It is not just the individual car user that needs to be aware of these requirements, but also company car users and employees who drive their own vehicles for business; it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all reasonable steps have been taken in line with the Duty of Care and the Corporate Manslaughter Act amendment enforced in July 07.”

In April 2008, the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force in the UK. The Act enables an organisation to be found guilty of an offence under the Act, if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death, and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased. The result of being found guilty of an offence under this Act is that organisations can now face unlimited fines — set to start at 5 per cent of annual turnover.

Mills continues “Every month there are news stories on the radio, both in the UK and right across Europe, of opportunities where lives could have been saved just by wearing a reflective vest at the side of the road. The solution to many UK road deaths is a cost-effective, simple item of clothing which has massive potential to save lives. Whether you drive a truck, bus, coach, van, car or motorbike the responsibility is on you to protect yourself, your passengers and other roads users.”

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