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With over 55% of company car drivers admitting in a recent RAC survey that they shout, swear and make rude gestures at other road users

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With over 55% of company car drivers admitting in a recent RAC survey that they shout, swear and make rude gestures at other road users, it is hardly surprising that more businesses are recognising driver behaviour as a threat to their reputation. Solicitor Peter Butterfield of Gepp & Sons in Chelmsford believes they are right to be taking the behaviour of their drivers increasingly seriously. "Company reputations are hard to build and easy to spoil," he says. "But for businesses and individuals, gaining a bad reputation might be a comparatively minor outcome of poor driving. The Sentencing Guidelines Council, which provides advice to courts in England and Wales on how to punish those found guilty of offences, is set to recommend draconian punishments for people convicted of causing death by dangerous driving." This is a new offence under the Road Safety Act 2006, which is set to come into force on 18 August 2008. According to Peter Butterfield, "A prison term of up to seven years could be attracted by causing death while reading or writing a text message, while a sentence of at least seven years will be recommended when drink, drugs or persistent bad driving are involved." Businesses that provide cars for their employees can play an important role in encouraging better driving, through setting company driving policies and even by providing additional training. "You may benefit from professional support in developing such policies, to ensure that they protect your organisation if something does go wrong," adds Peter Butterfield. Notes to Editors: For additional information or comment please contact: Peter Butterfield of Gepp & Sons on 01245 228131