More than half of all fleet cars will be involved in an accident over the next 12 months, according to new research.
The study – carried out by contract hire company Lex Autolease on its own fleet during 2009 – also shows 78% of accidents involving those 41,000 vehicles lay the blame at the driver of the company car.
With such a large proportion of accidents occurring where company drivers are at fault, it raises important questions about the situations that are causing these incidents to occur.
Research by Total Accident Management in May shows the most common causes of accidents as hitting the rear of another vehicle, glass damage and collision with an object.
Campaign director for Driving for Better Business Caroline Scurr says: “Reducing the number of crashes involving at-work drivers is proven to save thousands and, in the case of large fleets, millions of pounds.
“In addition, cutting the carnage improves business efficiency and the image of an organisation.”
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) believes that one of the key reasons why fleet drivers have accidents is the driver’s attitude that the vehicle does not belong to them
Simon Elstow, head of training at IAM, also believes that companies need to take into consideration that work pressures could be a main cause of why these accidents occur.
“If you give employees cars they have not driven before, expect them to drive to locations they have never driven too and then add further stress and pressure from journey planning to work-related targets, accidents will be more likely,” says Elstow.
“The main problem for fleet drivers is distraction.”
Insurance companies Aviva and Direct Line says that an obvious factor should not be overlooked.
“Fleet drivers tend to spend more time on the road than non-fleet drivers, so it stands to reason that the likelihood of them being involved in an accident will be higher,” explains Eric Nelson at Aviva.
As well as any cost involved in repairing the vehicle, a fleet also faces a larger overall bill, says accident management company Fleet Support Group.
“We estimate that each accident costs at least three times more than the cost of repairing that vehicle. With time off the road, administration costs and lost production, accidents costs can accelerate,” explains chairman Geoffrey Bray.
There are a number of driver awareness schemes and safety alerts which companies can implement to educate its drivers on the current risks out on the road including introducing driver handbooks, regular eye tests and driver training to drive the rate of accidents down further.
O2 has been working with IAM for the past seven years and has seen a significant reduction in the number of incidents that have occurred.
“Our own damage costs have reduced by approximately 50% and our incident ratio has dropped 50%, which is now below the national average. We are extremely pleased with how the programme is working,” says Chris Jacobs, health and safety manager at O2.
Companies are losing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of pounds each year to repair bills and third party costs due to accidents but there is potential for businesses to make substantial savings by educating their drivers further to the dangers on the road and how they can be prevented.
Case study: Ringway Group
Ringway Group, a client of Total Accident Management, has saved more than £111,000 in non-fault accident management costs on its fleet of 2,000 vehicles.
It has used the data supplied by credit hire and repair services to show how individual accidents have occurred, who was at the wheel and how often that driver has been involved in an accident, and is a component part of Ringway’s overall accident management programme.
Total Accident Management supplies key performance indicator reports to Ringway to detail the frequency, type and cost of incidents.
Gary Condon, group and fleet manager at Ringway, says: “We wanted access to a national network of repairers and to work with a supply chain partner that specialises in the uninsured loss recovery industry.
“This has helped us both to reduce costs and improve awareness of how accidents occur.”