'Social Responsibility and the Business Car', sponsored by GE Capital Fleet Services, states that the company car is a high-risk business asset and recommends that socially responsible management of the fleet makes good business sense.
It reveals how more than a dozen pieces of legislation, alongside guidelines from Road Traffic Acts and the Health and Safety at Work Act, could impact in business cars and their use.
Report author Professor Peter Cooke, head of the Institute of Automotive Management Studies at Nottingham Business School, said: 'The business car is a fundamental piece of business equipment. It has a certain cost to be recouped, and is also an external representation of the business. The business car is complex. This report does not seek to make value judgements about responsibility. It does, however, seek to show that socially responsible management of business cars makes good business sense. If it helps to keep directors out of jail, or stop large fines being imposed on the business, then so much the better.'
With the Government committed to cutting the number of at-work road crashes, the report says: 'Boards of directors are having to take on an increasing role regarding business cars. In terms of risks, business cars warrant a high category rating. Driving a business car is a pretty dangerous pastime.
'Risk management for the fleet needs to be properly set up and monitored and best practice with regard to business car operation needs to be seen to be established.' The report refers to the growth of in-car electronic equipment to improve business efficiency, including mobile phones, satellite navigation systems and telematic devices, and says: 'Any of these could cause the driver to lose momentary concentration while driving.'
Cooke recommends at least an annual review of the risks associated with business cars. The objective is to ensure guidelines are being pursued and to ensure best practice is being followed.'