Research by AA Business Services has shown how professionally managed vehicle service and maintenance can significantly enhance the safety of at-work drivers and lower fleet running costs.
About 8% of accidents attended by the AA are due to mechanical failures, and three-quarters of those are tyre related.
Saul Parsonson, general manager of AA Business Services, said: 'Poorly maintained vehicles are 38% more likely to have higher wholelife costs. Poor maintenance can lower residual values by as much as 35% and increase end of contract recharge fees.'
This is an area where company drivers have as significant a role to play as employers in ensuring their vehicles are properly maintained. Late servicing, for example, can increase maintenance costs by up to 25% while increasing the likelihood of vehicle breakdown and accidents, according to AA Business Services.
On the positive side, rotating tyres between cars and making sure the spare is used can save up to £500 per vehicle over a four years fleet life.
And even basic responsibilities such as checking tyre pressures and conditions could significantly reduce fleet drivers' call upon vehicle breakdown and rescue services.
'Tyre damage and punctures account for more than 11% of AA call-outs, and present significant potential problems in terms of control of the vehicle,' said Parsonson.
He highlighted a series of safety concerns expressed by fleet decision-makers responsible for running fleets of between 25 and 100 vehicles.
Driver tiredness, for example, was singled out by 80% of the executives as a serious issue, although only 35% actually monitor the time their staff spend behind the wheel.
However, 46% do monitor driver start and stop times, although with 10% of accidents due to drivers falling asleep, there is clearly more work to be done in this area. 'Employers must think about driving times, pressures and other stresses they place on drivers,' said Parsonson.
He put forward a risk assessment recipe for fleets to follow, that includes driver age, experience, type of driving, driving convictions, use of mobile phones, and the stresses placed on drivers and those they put on themselves.