Oct 26, 2023

Driving and riding safely for work

Ian Biddle
Further reading road safety

Driving and riding safely for work

1. Overview

As an employer, you must manage health and safety risks to workers who drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle, other powered two-wheeler or bicycle on the road as part of a work activity. Health and safety law applies to work activities on the road in the same way as it does on a fixed site.

Driving for work is one of the most dangerous things workers will do. This guidance will help you prevent injuries, ill health and deaths. Following the guidance will also help to reduce stress and improve morale and operational efficiencies.

This applies to employees and anyone engaged to work for you in the gig economy, including:

The law applies to both company and grey fleet vehicles. A grey fleet vehicle is owned and driven by a worker for business purposes. Vehicles used under cash allowance schemes are grey fleet too.

Commuting to work is not generally classified as driving for work, except where somone's journey starts from their home and they are travelling to a work location that is not their normal place of work. Health and safety law does not apply to commuting.

As part of your health and safety arrangements, you must do a risk assessment. The main areas you should look at in your risk assessment are the journey, the driver or rider and the vehicle.

Hazards that can cause harm to the driver or rider, passengers, other road users and/or pedestrians when driving for work include:

  • roadworks, traffic and congestion
  • vehicle condition
  • fatigue and distraction
  • time pressures
  • the weather
  • behaviour of other road users
  • Passengers

You should also consider the risks to lone workers and other vulnerable workers. A lone worker is ‘someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision’, including those who work away from a fixed base, such as delivery drivers or couriers.

You must also consult your workers about health and safety.

You must consider access to suitable welfare facilities for your drivers or riders.

The leaflet Plan, Do, Check, Act provides an introduction to managing for health and safety. These pages follow the ‘Safe journey, safe driver or rider, safe vehicle’ approach to managing driving and riding for work, which splits the risk into these areas.

2. Plan and manage journeys

You should make sure you plan journeys which are safe for your drivers and riders (‘safe journey’). Consider how long drivers and riders will be on the road for, where the work is, schedules, timing and the weather and put controls in place to manage any risks.


First, consider whether the journey is necessary.

When you are planning routes, choose the safest route for the type of vehicle. Motorways are the safest roads - minor roads can cause difficulties for larger vehicles.

Avoid restrictions, for example overhead bridges. Tunnels or level crossings may be dangerous for long vehicles.

Plan routes in consultation with drivers or their representatives, taking account of, for example the need for rest breaks and access to welfare facilities. Talk to your regular customers to ensure your drivers have access to toilets, washing facilities and rest areas.

The Highway Code recommends that drivers and riders should take a 15-minute break every two hours.

Avoid periods of peak traffic flow if you can and plan around seasonal variations on routes.

Reporting and investigating incidents

Implement a reporting system, for workers to report all work-related road incidents and near misses.

You should investigate incidents, monitor performance, make sure your policy is effective and that it has been implemented.

Investigate incidents to identify underlying causes, and to see if any controls or changes are needed. Also, regularly audit your performance, telematics is one way to do this.

It is also important to investigate dangerous occurrences or near misses and that you learn from them.

Vulnerable road users

The Highway Code has rules for road users requiring extra care, including pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists, other road users and other vehicles.

The time the journey will take

You should put controls in place to manage risks from the length of the journey. You should consider if journeys:

  • are short or long haul
  • are intermittent
  • have routine or non-routine stops
  • involve driving and stopping when it is dark
  • involve long working hours

Eliminate or reduce long road journeys by combining with other ways of working or other forms of transport. For example, move goods in bulk by train and then arrange for local distribution by van or lorry, or arrange meetings using conference calls or video links.

Work location

When thinking about the locations your drivers and riders are visiting, check:

  • whether instructions and signage are clear and in a form they understand
  • parking and layover arrangements
  • traffic management arrangements at the destination premises (including manoeuvring, arriving and departing)
  • that vehicles and people are separated effectively

You should communicate with sites your workers are visiting.

Don’t rely on in-vehicle navigation systems, as the map data may not be up to date.

Work schedules and timing

Calculate journey times to allow safe driving and riding, within the speed limit. Consider traffic, red lights, road types and conditions when you are calculating how long a journey will take.

Make sure your company policy does not put riders and drivers under pressure and encourage them to take unnecessary risks, for example to exceed safe speeds because of agreed arrival times.

Journey times should allow enough time at pick-up and drop-off to complete administrative and customer-facing tasks.

Consider when riders and drivers are most likely to feel fatigued when planning work schedules. Sleep-related incidents are most likely between 2 am and 6 am and 2 pm and 4 pm. Make it clear to drivers and riders that they shouldn’t drive if they feel sleepy, even if this upsets delivery schedules.

If riders or drivers work long, irregular hours, assess the dangers of them driving home when they are excessively tired. Make sure drivers or riders are not being asked to work exceptionally long hours. Consider overnight stays to manage any risks.

Fit tachographs to vehicles where appropriate and check them regularly. Download your drivers’ data regularly, store it as required, and analyse it to make sure drivers are following the rules on how many hours you can drive and the breaks you must take.

Allow drivers and riders enough time to safely deliver or collect loads, including safely securing loads before departure.

If you use an app to provide work, it should allow breaks to be built in.

Poor weather conditions

Vehicles should be properly equipped to operate in poor weather conditions such as snow, ice and high winds. For example they could be fitted with winter tyres and with the correct windscreen washer fluid for freezing conditions.

Drivers and riders should understand what to do to reduce risk, for example drivers of high-sided vehicles should take extra care if they are driving in strong winds with a light load.

Don’t pressure drivers and riders to complete journeys where weather conditions are exceptionally difficult, particularly vulnerable road users and riders of two-wheeled vehicles.

Support drivers and riders if they need to cancel a journey because of the weather conditions.

Vehicle safety monitoring technology

Consider if vehicle safety monitoring technologies ('telematics') can help you monitor indicators of risky driver behaviours like excessive speed, harsh or erratic driving, distraction and drowsy driving. When you are choosing a system, consider the following.

Outputs from the system need to be clearly related to the risk being managed. Monitor the smallest number of indicators that will enable you to effectively manage your risks. A good minimum list would include speed, harsh braking or acceleration, swerving and cornering.

Management and coaching feedback are a critical part of the system. Don’t rely solely on in-vehicle feedback.

Choose a system that does not give excessive in-vehicle feedback that could distract drivers, for example flashing lights and loud sounds.

Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) technologies are particularly effective to help people manage their speed and should be prioritised when choosing a system.

Where fatigue is a potential risk, drowsiness detection technology (which may require cameras) is likely to be effective, although this should not replace fatigue management policies such as proper shift scheduling.

Any system should be easy for drivers and anyone responsible for coaching their drivers to use, access data from and interpret.

Organisations that contract drivers through a 'gig economy' model should recognise their responsibilities in managing work-related road risks and ensuring the apps they provide to manage the distribution of work do not create additional risk.

Any telematics system should be implemented using a Plan, Do, Check, Act approach, supported by clearly documented policies and procedures.

HSE and the Department for Transport commissioned research on the potential benefits of safety technologies in vehicles.

3. Make sure drivers and riders are safe

You should make sure that your drivers and riders are safe and healthy when they are driving or riding for work (‘safe driver or rider’).

Competence and capabilities

You must assess workers’ health and safety capabilities and competence.

Consider the following about your workers when doing your risk assessment, choosing workers or allocating work:

  • experience, attitude, maturity, driving record, physical fitness, language barriers
  • physical capabilities – ability, age, sensory impairment, mental health, and general health
  • vulnerable workers, for example young workers, workers who are new to the job or new to the task, inexperienced or trainee drivers and riders
  • the skill and expertise required to do the job safely and making sure they are met
  • any driving or riding offences
  • ensuring safe behaviours on the road
  • ensuring licences, insurance, and MOTs are legal and up to date

It is important to make drivers and riders aware of company policy on work-related road safety. You could use:

  • written instructions and guidance
  • drivers’ handbooks
  • training sessions
  • induction
  • group meetings including toolbox talks


You must make sure workers are adequately trained at no cost to them. Consider:

  • giving priority to those at highest risk, for example drivers or riders with high annual mileage, poor accident records, or vulnerable workers
  • whether drivers and riders need extra training to carry out their duties safely, such as using defensive driving techniques, or how to load and unload safely
  • whether drivers and riders understand how and when to use in-vehicle and additional technology
  • training about other road users, for example cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians
  • if drivers and riders need training on how to assess risks while they are on the road
  • how to assess training needs periodically, including refresher training
  • whether your workers need advanced driver training
  • the benefits of your drivers and riders holding a full driving licence for powered two-wheelers
  • how to ensure your training providers are competent

Induction training should cover issues like:

  • violence, crime and assault – how to stay safe and how to report it
  • incident and near miss reporting, as well as confidential health and safety reporting
  • what personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn, how to maintain it and when it needs to be replaced
  • commitment to driving and riding within the law
  • breaks and rest periods
  • company policy on, for example working hours, safe use of multi-apping
  • drivers and riders doing daily vehicle safety checks to make sure that their vehicle is safe to use. This is especially important for drivers and riders that travel long distances
  • safety measures around the loading of vehicles (load security) and backpacks (especially on two wheelers)
  • manual handling techniques
  • safe use of mobile phones/apps

Instructions for drivers and riders on keeping safe

Give drivers and riders clear instructions on keeping safe. Make sure they understand how to:

  • carry out routine safety checks, such as those on lights, tyres, and wheel fixings, and report any faults
  • correctly adjust safety equipment, for example seat belts and head restraints
  • ensure they are safe if their vehicle breaks down, for example to use safety warning triangles and high-visibility jackets
  • act if the load in or on their vehicle moves during the journey, for example to pull over in a safe place as soon as possible, avoiding any harsh braking or steering, and contact you for advice

Also consider the following points:

  • do not put drivers and riders under pressure to meet delivery targets, as this could encourage poor driving practices including speeding
  • remind riders and drivers they must not drive under the influence of drink or drugs, including prescription drugs if they could affect the ability to drive or ride
  • check whether drivers and riders are aware of the height of their vehicle, laden and empty. You may need to provide equipment so they can check the height before setting off
  • check whether drivers and riders are aware of how to secure loads and ensure that their vehicle is not overloaded or unstable
  • provide drivers and riders with guidance on other risks, for example slips and trips or falls from height
  • make sure crash helmets and protective clothing for riders of two-wheelers are of the appropriate standard


Distraction is when a driver or rider’s concentration is taken away from the task of driving. Reducing or removing these from drivers and riders will significantly reduce risk.

Distractions include personal digital assistants (PDAs), notifications, apps, mobile phones, other road users, personal circumstances, the radio, and passengers.

When it comes to mobile phones, make your drivers and riders aware that:

  • using a handheld mobile phone while driving for calls, texting, web-browsing, taking photographs or videos is an offence
  • using a hands-free mobile phone increases the likelihood of a collision

Employers should:

  • have a clear policy on mobile phones – workers should not pick up phones or make or receive video calls while driving
  • provide adequate hands-free equipment if they need to communicate while driving
  • ensure drivers use hands-free mode sparingly and only when necessary

A self-employed driver or rider should ensure they comply with the law on not using hand-held mobile phones.

Violence and aggression

Assess the risk of violence and aggression towards drivers and riders and have policies and procedures in place to deal with it, including:

  • training in how to deal with violence and aggression
  • reporting systems
  • systems for tracking drivers
  • drivers regularly checking in

Health and safety responsibilities for contractors

Both you and any contractor you use have duties under health and safety and road traffic law when vehicles are used on the road.

Think about:

  • ensuring contractors are competent to do the job without risks to the health and safety of their workers and other road users
  • providing contractors with information on the risks from your activities and the controls you have in place, for example company standards and policies (aims, commitments, guidelines, resource, responsibilities, dos, and don'ts) for vehicle and driver safety
  • whether you have arrangements in place to ensure contractors tell you about risks from their work
  • what arrangements you need to ensure co-operation and co-ordination to ensure everyone’s health and safety
  • what you need to do to agree any controls before work starts and to monitor the ongoing work of contractors
  • providing information and advice on long hours, fatigue and ill health

The leaflet Using contractors: A brief guide gives guidance on your health and safety duties.


Vehicle safety monitoring technology (‘telematics’) can help you monitor whether your drivers and riders are driving safely, for example not driving erratically.

4. Look after your workers’ health

Make sure your workers are fit to drive and have any medical certificates they must have in law. They must satisfy eyesight and other health requirements of the Highway Code and DVLA. Encourage them to report any health concerns and check with their GP if they are unsure if any medicines they take could impair their judgement.


Workers need to be aware of how dangerous fatigue can be and what to do if they start to feel sleepy.

Tiredness increases reaction time and reduces vigilance, alertness, and concentration, which impairs your ability to drive. It can also affect how fast you process information and the quality of your decision-making.

Drivers and riders are most likely to suffer from fatigue:

  • on long journeys on monotonous roads, such as motorways
  • between 2am and 6am or 2pm and 4pm
  • after eating
  • after long working hours or on journeys home after long shifts, especially night shifts

Stress and mental health issues

Employers have a legal duty to protect workers from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it.

Stress is not an illness but it can make you ill. Recognising the signs will help employers to tackle the causes before they lead to ill health. The earlier a problem is tackled, the less impact it will have on your business.


Take account of ergonomic considerations (like driving position and how easy the controls are to reach) before buying or leasing new vehicles.

Make sure drivers’ health, and possibly safety, is not being put at risk from an inappropriate seating position or driving posture.

Provide drivers with guidance on good posture and, where appropriate, on how to set their seat correctly.

5. Make sure vehicles used to drive or ride for work are safe

You should make sure any vehicle used for your business is safe and remains safe (‘safe vehicle’).

Choose the right vehicle for your work

When you buy new vehicles, research which ones are most suitable for your operations.

Think about any issues you have with vehicles and speak to manufacturers about whether you can design those out.

Make sure your vehicles have driver aids and other safety devices where appropriate, for example reversing alarms, camera systems, proximity sensors or side protection bars for lorries or HGVs to protect cyclists. Assess the age and condition of the vehicle.

Certain vehicles are safer than others, particularly at different times of the day or year and in different conditions. Consider this when you plan and distribute work. For example, use cars rather than two-wheelers during bad weather.

If your company uses autonomous vehicles, you must plan how you use them. Drivers need to be competent to operate them, and aware of their role in the vehicle.

Managing vehicle safety

You should make sure that workers use vehicles safely. Make sure they:

  • understand you have a clear policy that unsafe vehicles should not be driven
  • use seatbelts when legally required
  • do not overload vehicles. This is particularly important when using vans carrying a range of equipment or loads
  • have appropriate arrangements in place for properly securing loads, such as goods and equipment

Make sure that privately owned vehicles used for work purposes are safe. Workers must do checks on their vehicles, have them serviced and have insurance and a valid MOT.

Maintain vehicles in a safe and fit condition

Make sure vehicles are safe to go on the road, by making sure:

  • workers carry out and record daily vehicle checks and take any actions needed
  • planned and preventive maintenance is carried out in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations. An MOT certificate only covers basic defects and does not guarantee that a vehicle is safe
  • workers inspect tyres and windscreen wipers regularly and you replace them when needed
  • you have procedures for reporting defects
  • defects are remedied promptly
  • maintenance and repairs are carried out to an acceptable standard
  • you have a clear policy that unsafe vehicles should not be driven
  • headboards and bulkheads in vehicles and trailers are fitted to protect the driver and any passengers in the vehicle. They should be fit for purpose and checked regularly to make sure they haven’t been damaged
  • you and your workers are aware of hazards from electric and hybrid vehicles and what to do if involved in an incident on the road, for example the fire risks posed by battery damage in a collision
  • workers keep cabs tidy

Riders of two-wheelers

People are most likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads while riding powered two-wheelers (including motorcycles, mopeds and scooters) or bicycles. They are also disproportionately likely to be involved in a collision which kills or seriously injures a person walking or cycling. So, these need a robust risk management approach when used on the road.

Consider the following for powered two-wheelers and bicycles:

  • If you could use or encourage riders to use safer transport modes in bad weather, which presents a great risk to riders
  • Make sure riders are adequately trained and have the skills to ride safely
  • Assess loads workers are carrying and whether they destabilize the vehicle and are fastened securely
  • Provide hands-free options for operating navigation systems and other apps required for work
  • Provide job-specific personal protective clothing

6. The law and how it is regulated

The police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) enforce road traffic law. It places duties on transport managers, operators, and consignors to ensure that:

  • vehicles are in good mechanical condition
  • drivers are fit and competent to drive their vehicles
  • passengers or loads carried on or in those vehicles are carried safely

There may be specific law and operator licence requirements on HGVs or public service vehicles that take priority over the general guidance on these pages.

The police lead investigations into road traffic incidents on public roads.

Employers have general duties under health and safety law on driving and riding for work. HSE usually only investigates if:

  • the police identify that serious management failures contributed significantly to the incident
  • the machinery that was part of the vehicle was at fault, for example trailer brakes on agricultural vehicles

You or your organisation could be prosecuted for Gross Negligence Manslaughter or under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 if:

  • one of your workers is involved in a road traffic incident while driving for work and this results in the death of the worker or another person, and
  • there is evidence that the death was caused by either a grossly negligent act or omission; or by serious management failures amounting to a ‘gross breach of a relevant duty of care’

HSE carries out driving at work inspection programmes in some high-risk sectors.

If you are self-employed, the law may still apply to you.