At the South-West and Wales regional meeting of the Association of Car Fleet Operators, a poll showed that 60% of managers attending believed in driver training.
Among those who said it was a waste of time was regional chairman Russ Bailey, fleet manager at The Paperhouse Group. He said he had tried driver training, but the same drivers continued to have accidents. 'We decided to abandoned the carrot approach and just use the stick. Drivers who have accidents now have £75 cut from their pay, which is refunded if we claim the money back. We have seen accidents reduce from one every 12 days to one every two months.' But Dianne Rees, Leo Pharmaceuticals business services manager, said: 'We have been running driver training since 1985. The reduction in accidents over the last two years has cut insurance premiums by about £30,000.'
Fleet managers, however, appear to be heeding police warnings that driver management policies face strict scrutiny in the event of a serious accident, leading possibly to heavy fines and imprisonment. At the ACFO North-East branch in Bradford, members expressed their willingness to try to achieve change within their own companies. Richard Wallis, of Clariant UK, said: 'Gone are the days when a policeman only turns up at the scene of the accident to ask questions. The onus is on the employer now to apply the same health and safety rules that govern the use of machinery and plant on site to the car.