'Company fleet managers are certainly living in interesting times. Having only just got through the upheaval caused by the changes to the company car tax regime, fleet decision-makers now face the prospect of a massive increase in form filling courtesy of the 4th EU Directive.
For the benefit of those who have not yet grasped the implications of this latest brainwave, the 4th European Motor Directive is an EU ruling aimed at reducing the number of uninsured vehicles on our roads, as well as allowing quick identification of foreign motorists' insurance details. A worthy goal.
Unfortunately, it means that all businesses with fleet vehicles will be responsible for supplying details of all their vehicles to a Government database. The information may be provided directly or via their insurers and it is likely that updates will be required on a weekly basis.
As usual, fleets and overburdened fleet executives are being targeted for something that is not a fleet issue.
The Government should be addressing the problem of uninsured private motorists who cost honest policyholders an estimated £30 each per year in extra premiums. There are an estimated one million car drivers in the UK who drive without insurance. You may wonder why?
The answer is simple. If you get caught driving without insurance, the average fine is about £150. The average cost of a private insurance policy is about £350.
The Government should ensure the courts impose fines that deter this practice. Although the Directive is due to come into force in January, Parliament has yet to pass the necessary legislation, so we do not know the exact details of what information we will be required to provide.
This leaves an extremely small time frame in which to plan for and implement the Directive.
The minimum requirement will be a list of registration numbers but insurers are expected to ask for additional data, such as make and model. Any changes to the fleet must also be reported, including the dates when vehicles came on or off the fleet.
Once again, the legislators have had a bright idea which, when implemented, will significantly increase costs for the business community.
Not only will there be more expense due to increased administration, but companies which fail to provide the required information will also be penalised – but for what meaningful gain?
In my view, it's the classic sledgehammer-to-crack-a-walnut syndrome.
Of course, there is a silver lining to this particular cloud. Companies which lease their fleets can (for a small administrative charge) pass the bulk of the administrative burden over to the vehicle leasing companies concerned, which in most cases will already hold the information required – including changes and temporary vehicles. Unfortunately, this is not legislation that one can safely ignore.
Companies need to act now to make sure their systems are adequate for the increased demands that will be placed on them in the New Year.'