Yet despite overwhelming support for driver training, many companies backing the proposal do not provide any training to their own drivers and also ignore basic safety checks on vehicles.
In an exclusive RAC Business Services survey, in association with sister title Fleet News, 80% of companies agreed with the statement 'additional training should be compulsory for drivers whose job requires them to drive on company business,' while 86% said further training for drivers would reduce accidents.
An even greater majority, 85%, said company vehicles should be part of the workplace and should be subject to health and safety regulations. Fleet decision-makers said key factors influencing their approach to safety were employee safety and also the possibility of legislation on corporate manslaughter.
Investigations by the Work-related Road Safety Task Group discovered that up to a third of road accidents involved at-work drivers and it is now preparing a report suggesting ways to improve fleet safety. Yet while fleets are aware they are under pressure to act on safety, many still ignore basic elements of keeping their drivers safe on the road.
Thirty-two per cent of firms admitted they had not invested in any driver training and a further 35% limited training to less than 25% of drivers. Only 15% have provided more than 76% of drivers with training, yet 40% of firms admitted nearly all their drivers needed extra training.
The survey also showed that 19% of fleets never carry out checks on cars, while a further 14% only carry out checks annually. Nearly half said there was no public transport alternative to staff using cars to carry out their work. Interviews with 100 executives with responsibility for fleets ranging in size from less than 100 vehicles to more than 1,000 were carried out for the survey.
Allen Bewley, RAC Business Services head of risk management, said: 'Driver training is not a luxury investment, but a financial necessity. There is a growing awareness of the health and safety and corporate manslaughter implications of work-related crashes.
'Companies who have their employees trained to drive in a more professional and safer manner will get a return on their investment in driver training through reduced accident rates, lower insurance premiums and fewer days off through crash-related sick leave.'