Operations director David Thacker said a number of companies charged drivers for the full cost of any incident, but the real problem came when drivers faced dismissal if their driving records failed to improve. 'The problem is that you build up a timebomb,' he said. 'Driving standards on your fleet could be very poor - yet because the incidents so far have been minor enough to avoid reporting, the true picture may not be revealed until a spate of serious accidents takes place.'
Thacker said the problem was more likely to occur in cases where vehicles were not regularly inspected by the fleet manager, but added that even quite serious panel damage could go unnoticed when drivers had an incentive to keep quiet. He said the answer was for fleets to work on changing the company culture so that drivers felt able to own up to any incidents they were involved in.