Fleet News

Safety first plea in car choice lists

FLEET chiefs must take a vehicle's safety record into account when they establish their company car choice lists, junior transport minister Lord Whitty told delegates to the Fleet News UK Congress.

He also hammered home the importance of employers taking road safety much more seriously as he outlined the Government's work-related road safety strategy within the context of the Government's wider road safety strategy.

A Government task force chaired by Post Office group managing director Richard Dykes is due to publish a discussion document in February next year outlining how work-related road safety can improve and it will be followed by a conference to discuss the findings in April.

New research from Loughborough University just received by the Government reveals that driver fatigue is a major cause of road accidents and Whitty urged employers to put measures in place to ensure that staff are never too tired to drive safely.

'Getting company car drivers to reduce their speeds will play a significant role in reducing road casualties,' Whitty told Congress. 'Managing employees' health and safety is primarily the responsibility of the employer. Road risk issues should be part of the employers' total safety culture. But many employers don't extend their policies to their mobile workforce.'

When the Government has completed its analysis of company car and van road safety it is likely that road traffic law will not have primacy over health and safety legislation.

'If we do that it should have real benefits and reduce problems such as travel fatigue. We will see realistic work patterns, employees not under stress and work and time-related journey patterns.'

In addition, it is expected that the European Union's working time directive will be extended to the transport sector, giving employees a mandatory 48-hour working week.

Tougher penalties for motoring offences are also on the agenda with drink-drivers likely to face a doubling of the existing mandatory 12-month driving ban when the Home Office completes its ongoing review of penalties.

'I want to get to a position where speed is regarded with as great a disdain by society as drink-driving,' Whitty told congress. He suggested that an offence of 'gross speeding' for motorists who break speed limits by a large margin was under consideration.

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