Fleet News

When 'older' may not always mean 'wiser'

OLD habits die hard among mature company car drivers, with more than a quarter of older employees admitting to drinking and driving, according to new research.

While their younger colleagues are pinpointed as the greatest risk on the fleet, key safety messages such as the tragic consequences of drinking and driving have been hammered home to great effect.

By contrast, older drivers may avoid speeding, ensure their passengers wear seatbelts and take proper breaks, but thousands of employees aged over 31 admit to drinking and driving, risking a driving ban and their jobs in the process.

Recent research by Godfrey Davis (Contract Hire), revealed in its report Company Cars - The Driver Perspective, has investigated drivers' differing attitudes to risk according to their age.

Years of campaigns against drinking and driving have clearly had an affect on younger drivers, with 100% aged between 21-30 saying they would never get behind the wheel drunk. Yet for drivers aged 31-40, 19% have driven when believing they were over the legal alcohol limit, 18% aged 41-50 have done so and a shocking 27% of drivers aged 51-60.

The revelations raise serious issues for employers attempting to tackle driver safety among new staff, because some of their most influential employees, with a direct say on fleet training initiatives, may be some of the worst offenders on the fleet.

Nigel Underdown, marketing director for Godfrey Davis (Contract Hire), said: 'There are two possible explanations for this. Firstly that younger drivers are more aware of and have been better educated on the dangers of driving 'over the limit'.

'Secondly, older drivers suffer from 'old habits die hard' syndrome and have a greater belief, or in fact ignorance, of their capabilities.'

Despite older drivers' disturbing attitude to drinking and driving, they are most likely to always use seatbelts.

The survey showed 91% of 30-year-olds always use seatbelts, 94% aged 31-40, 95% aged 41-50 and 100% of 51-60-year-olds. Older drivers are also most likely to insist their passengers use seatbelts as well.

Older drivers are also less likely to speed on the motorway and are not as prone to speeding when under pressure of work, according to the research. While 68% of drivers aged 21-30 admit to 80mph being their average motorway speed, this drops to 57% of drivers aged 51-60.

Only 15% of drivers aged 21-30 say their average speed is 70mph, compared to 20% aged 31-40, 31% aged 41-50 and 37% aged 51-60.

In the highest speed category, 90mph, 16% aged 21-30 said this was 'normal' on motorways, compared to 14% aged 31-40, 6% aged 41-50 and 5% aged 51-50.

On average 91% of drivers admit to driving less safely because of the pressure of work, but only 5% of 21-30-year-olds say they never do, compared to 10% of 41-50-year-olds and 11% of 51-60-year-olds.

Underdown added: 'Pressure, it would appear, has a much greater impact upon driving habits of younger drivers than older ones, due perhaps, to older drivers being more organised, working under less stress or simply being more responsible.'

The survey examined the views of 700 company car drivers nationwide and said the results gave major cause for concern with an increasing focus on health and safety issues related to company cars.

It has highlighted the need for companies to ensure they investigate the training needs of their fleets in detail, as an 'off the peg' approach may not pin-point some of the greatest risks to employees' safety.

The survey showed 62% of drivers had not received any defensive driver training, despite 47% saying they would be willing to undergo it.

Underdown added: 'The message that prevention is better than the cure seems to have penetrated the thinking of only the minority of fleets.'

  • Company Cars – The Driver Perspective, is available priced £250 by contacting 0208 4205596 or emailing sales@gdch.co.uk
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