Employers could face jail under new fleet safety laws.

Company directors and managers, including fleet operators, that turn a blind eye to occupational road risk management could find themselves being jailed for up to two years when the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 comes into force on 16 January 2009.

The legislation, which gained Royal Assent this month, amends the sentencing provisions set out in the Health and Safety at work Act 1974. Under its terms, an individual could be prosecuted if their management failings resulted in a car crash that was caused by a poorly-maintained vehicle or an employee being forced to work long hours.

The Act extends the £20,000 maximum Magistrates’ Court fine to a wider range of health and safety offences for which fleet managers and fleet decision makers could be prosecuted resulting in up to two years in prison, if convicted in a Crown Court, a fine or both.

Fleet Support Group chairman Geoffrey Bray said: “There remains, in many companies, an underlying apathy towards road safety. A well-managed business manages safety well, and this Act gives further impetus to ensure organisations that remain ignorant as to their responsibilities take action.”