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Written by Martin Coppard 29/11/2021

Vehicle movements – an accident waiting to happen?

One of the challenges with many motor trade premises is space. Yards and parking areas can become insufficient as the business grows or may be shared with other tenants over whom you have no control.

In a busy yard where there’s frequent movement of vehicles amid employees, customers or other visitors, there’s clearly a ‘foreseeable’ risk of a collision and the likelihood is increased significantly if the area is heavily congested or large commercial vehicles are present.

Likelihood and consequence

Risk is a combination of two things – likelihood and consequence.  The potential consequences of someone being struck by a moving vehicle are obviously very severe and if indicators are that likelihood is moderate or high, then you must take immediate action. 

Below are some indicators to look out for and some potential solutions to consider...

Indicators of an increased likelihood of collisions

Solutions to consider

Poor visibility particularly in twilight hours
  • Improve external lighting.
  • Instruct staff not to use a mobile phone while walking across the yard and give full attention to their surroundings.
  • Signage warning of the hazard of moving vehicles.
Drivers having difficulty spotting workshop staff and other pedestrians moving around the yard
  • Introduce a ‘Hi-Viz’ Policy for anyone in the yard.
  • Install designated pedestrian walkways (ideally with physical barriers, or raised pavements) to keep pedestrians and vehicles apart.
Customers cruising the yard trying to find where to park or looking for a space
  • Provide ample, clearly identified designated parking spaces and keep these clear for visitors – with a sign at site entrance directing arrivals to the relevant place.

Vehicles parked haphazardly/disorderly

  • Ensure parking bays of the correct size (as well as any ‘No Parking’ areas) are identified and clearly painted.
  • Regular monitoring to ensure vehicles don’t park over marked pedestrian walkways.

A ‘free-for-all’ situation in the yard with no enforcement of site safety rules

  • Make someone responsible for yard safety who can be available to assist arriving vehicles, facilitate parking and monitor safety.
  • If there’s a CCTV system, use this to remotely monitor activity in hidden areas of the yard.

Drivers constantly moving vehicles to make way for others or new incoming sales stock

  • Review how parking is arranged.  Can slow-moving stock vehicles be parked at the rear of the site?
  • Is surplus off-site storage an option if stock levels are rising (particularly at peak seasonal times)?

Vehicles entering the site at speed

  • Have a clearly identified and enforced 5mph speed limit.
  • Larger sites may have a gatehouse and barrier or speed bumps to force vehicles to slow down.
Employees having to walking directly across vehicle movement areas to the staff car park
  • Can staff parking be as close to the building entrance as possible?
  • Pause any vehicle movements (other than staff cars) in/out or around the site for 30mins at prime staff arrival and departure times, to allow employees to enter/exit the premises safely.

Multiple reversing manoeuvres

  • Is there the possibility of a one-way route around the premises?
  • If reversing cannot be avoided, use trained banksman in high visibility clothing.
Lack of care observed when staff are moving vehicles short distances around the site
  • Even where the RTA doesn’t apply, have a policy that states that only those who hold a licence for the class of vehicle in question are authorised to move it.

Lots to consider

The precautions you choose will depend on the size and nature of your site, and the volume of vehicle movements that take place.  At the end of the day, your legal obligation is to do all that is ‘reasonably practicable’. 

As well as consulting with the workforce over any planned changes, there may be a need for training to communicate new site rules to staff – which may be achieved via formal sessions, toolbox talks, team meetings or a house note.

Above all else, monitoring and enforcement of the rules is essential with violations being ‘called out’ and escalated through disciplinary routes if necessary. 

For more information and advice simply call 0330 008 5555 or email

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Categories: Commercial Insurance, Risk Management

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