Tony Leigh, chairman of the Association of Car Fleet Operators, believes the message is getting through. He said: 'Those companies that have a strong inherent safety policy, such as those in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, have always given a high profile to safety. But now, because of the publicity given to the issue, the others are catching up. We're seeing better planning being given to the amount of time drivers are on the roads and increasing allowance for overnight stops.'
Ian Richardson, manager of English Nature's 200 car and 4x4 fleet, is taking action that addresses a number of the current safety issues. After just six months in the job he is taking the unusual step of bringing the entire management of the fleet back in-house because of dissatisfaction at the performance of management companies. Richardson said: 'I have now got the manpower I need to introduce a proper monitoring system of all aspects of vehicle use. Driver safety will become one of the parameters.'
While B&Q does not have a formal safety policy, Angela Taylor, who runs its 550-vehicle fleet, said the company has addressed the problem of drug use and its impact on driving. 'Our code of practise makes it clear the company won't tolerate drinking during work time and we will treat the use of social drugs in the same way,' she said.
One of the most pioneering fleet managers on the issue of driver safety is David Lee, manager of John Laing Construction's 2,500-vehicle fleet. Following the death of an employee in a road accident, Lee introduced one of the tightest safety policies in the industry, based on close adherence to traffic law . He says employers must look to staff contracts of employment first if they are serious about improving safety.