Fleet News

RAC targets fleets in new safety drive

FLEET managers and their drivers will be the target of a high-profile campaign calling for mandatory risk management audits in the industry to slash its high road accident rate. The call is part of a six-point action plan from RAC Motoring Services which puts the poor safety record of fleet drivers as one of its key priorities to be tackled during the year.

Also on the RAC's six-point wish-list are making driving while tired an unacceptable practice, improving driving standards of novices and inexperienced drivers, cutting journeys to school by cars, raising awareness of safety on the motorway and helping disabled drivers maintain access to transport.

The strategy was created after the findings of the RAC Report on Motoring 2001 showed that fleet safety is still behind that of private drivers. Fleets have been at the centre of a Government campaign over their high accident record for several years, with junior Transport Minister Lord Whitty lambasting the industry over safety as far back as 1999, but promised reforms to force change have been slow to appear. In some cases, the fleet accident rate on the road is 180% higher than for private drivers.

A spokesman for RAC Motoring Services said: 'Safety should not be a matter of choice, but a necessity, using legislative pressure if required. In spite of overwhelming evidence that driving a company car rates among the most hazardous work activities, 'management' seems to regard work related road accidents as an inevitable cost of doing business. RAC is calling on Government and employers to make risk management audits and linked driver training part of the health and safety process.'

The firm said it expected some form of pressure to be placed on fleet managers through the Health and Safety Code of Practice on directors' responsibilities, foreshadowed in a recent 'Revitalising Health and Safety' strategy statement. Graeme Potts, group managing director of RAC Motoring Services, said: 'This year's report emphasises the choices which motorists face in making their transport decisions, whether under pressure from lack of realistic alternatives, work or family commitments, or because of their personal preferences.'

The report revealed that 45% of company car drivers treated their company car as an office and that the nation as a whole has become more reliant than ever on their own transport. Only 36% of drivers said they were willing to use public transport, down from 45% in 1997 and slumping to an eight year low, but three million drivers last year said they had abandoned a journey because of congestion. A further six million 'abandoned' their car, with most switching to train or tube.

However, the survey showed the continued value of company cars in improving emissions and fuel economy in the car parc as a whole. Fleets keep their cars for 3.1 years on average, compared to five years for private car drivers, ensuring newer, cleaner technology reaches the roads more quickly.

A summary of the report is available on the RAC website www.rac.co.uk, or for copies of the full report, priced £395, call Louise Sanders on 01454 208273.

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