Skip to main content

Causing serious injury by careless driving

By James Billings
Practice Leader, Motor Risk Solutions

On 28 June 2022 a new offence of 'Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving' came into UK law.

On 28 June 2022 a new offence of 'Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving' came into UK law, under The Police Crime and Sentencing Act 2022.

Previously, if the driver of a motor vehicle 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, together with a driving licence endorsement of three to nine penalty points, or in the most serious cases in terms of both culpability and harm, the court can use its discretion to impose a driving disqualification.

The new offence

The new offence of 'Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving' can be dealt with in either a Magistrates’ Court or a Crown Court. If convicted in the Crown Court, the driver can face a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment. If convicted in the Magistrates’ Court, the driver can face a one-year sentence. In both cases, the convicted driver will also face an obligatory disqualification.

To be convicted of this new offence, 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. So, for the same error of judgment, a driver convicted of the new offence will now not only lose their licence but is also at risk of being sent to prison.

Protecting vulnerable road users

A large number of ‘careless driving’ cases don’t currently result in prosecution, particularly if there’s no serious injury. Often, the driver will undertake a driver education course at their own expense.

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.

Advice for business fleet and risk managers

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

Employees who drive vehicles for work purposes should be advised of the change to the law via staff briefings or toolbox talks.

This also further reinforces the need for ongoing driver training to help improve road safety and reduce incidents.

Risk management services for QBE customers

QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.

With almost a century of insuring commercial vehicles, 50 years’ experience in insuring bus and coach fleets, and 30 years as the UK leader in minibus insurance, QBE is fully committed to the motor sector and proactively helping customers to manage risk and drive down claims. This approach has made QBE a name to trust in commercial motor insurance.

QBE customers can access self-assessment questionnaires and a library of risk management material, along with a panel of approved partners who offer training, e-learning and other services at specially reduced rates. You can find more information in our Motor risk management service offerings brochure, and find out more about how QBE helps businesses to manage risk here.

Need to claim? Report it early

Finally, a reminder that if you have an incident and need to make an insurance claim, it’s important that you report it as soon as possible, ideally the same day. Reporting a claim early can save time and help you to receive any claim payments faster, as well as allowing us to help mitigate the cost of third-party claims.