Fleet News

NCAP saved my life, fleet manager claims

TOP fleet manager David Lee is living proof that driving a car with a high safety rating saves lives, after he walked away from a head-on car crash in a vehicle he chose based on European New Car Assessment Programme crash test results. Lee, who runs the 2,500-strong fleet of John Laing Construction, says he owes his life to the guidance provided by the crash test results and has told fleet managers to put a car's safety record before any other fleet buying decisions.

His accident, in a Vauxhall Omega estate - the saloon variant gained a three-star rating in the Euro NCAP executive car crash tests held last year - shows that the crash simulations are a vital guide to how vehicles perform in everyday situations and shatters arguments from some manufacturers that the tests are unrealistic. Lee, who walked away uninjured from the crash, told Fleet NewsNet: 'I could have had other cars but in this case I don't know whether I would have walked away if I had not chosen a new model with a proven crash performance record.'

His comments come as the latest round of crash tests on lower medium sector cars revealed widely differing standards between models. And this week Far Eastern car manufacturers have been attacked by European Union Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock for putting occupants of their vehicles 'unacceptably at risk' in crashes.

Lee was driving his 2.5-litre Vauxhall Omega estate at 35-40mph in Bedfordshire when he was involved in a collision with an A-registered Vauxhall Cavalier being driven at a similar speed in the opposite direction which had swerved to avoid an obstacle. Its driver was taken to hospital. Most of Lee's 2,500-strong fleet is fitted with airbags as standard and, he said: 'Safety is a vital aspect of fleet management particularly if staff have no choice in the car they drive. By taking account of the findings of the Euro NCAP tests I am looking after the safety of all company car drivers.'

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