Tough new proposals that could lead to companies being held responsible if their drivers are involved in an accident could create a 'new breed of claim' which will benefit only lawyers, claims Theodore Agnew, chief executive of Town & Country Assistance. The firm handles 100,000 fleet accident claims a year for clients including Practical Car & Van Rental, the Rank Organisation and Securicor.
He said: 'Legislative changes to employer responsibilities in the prevention of road accidents, which is what the Government is looking at with its new drive, sound reasonable in principle. But it is not so easy in practice. Employers can only be responsible for ensuring that preventative measures, such as limiting journey times, are adhered to.
'Beyond this, attempting to make them responsible for an individual's driving is likely to lead to a slow backlog of unsettled claims as employers fight out the degree of responsibility for company car accidents with their employees. This can only lead to spiralling costs for fleets, not to speak of the nightmare of red tape which is likely to be involved through the introduction of stringent new regulations on company fleets.'
Agnew is calling on the Government to alter its focus to other areas that could produce a much larger reduction in injuries and deaths on the roads. He said: 'Supporting research by motor manufacturers into vehicle safety and offering incentives for fleet managers to purchase safer cars is far more likely to lead to further dramatic reductions in road accidents than tying fleets up in reams of red tape and costly legal processes.'