The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents called for the driving limit in a series of ground-breaking safety codes revealed earlier this month. It suggested companies should restrict drivers to a 350-mile round-trip if they also have to work during the day.
For employees making a return journey, this would limit them to travelling between London and Hull, or London and Cardiff. For a one-way trip a driver could reach Perth from London.
A recent report by Godfrey Davis (Contract Hire) revealed that 2% of drivers spend more than 30 hours in the car on business per week before they start work.
About a quarter spend at least 16 hours per week in the car, not including commuting.
A further 26% admitted they spend at least 11 hours a week commuting, with some estimating they spend more than 20 hours getting to and from work. With the Government looking intently at employers' responsibilites to staff who drive as part of their jobs, companies are facing increasing pressure to take action.
But as our results show, more than half of companies in the Fleet Panel believe the suggested mileage limit is excessive. In particular, they argue that 200 miles on the M25 would be far more stressful than 400 miles on a clear M1. However, there is a widespread belief that some form of company control of drivers is necessary.
Many of those questioned about the RoSPA campaign said they were concerned how it would be enforced.
'I WOULD be in favour of setting a cap on daily driving, be it hours behind the wheel or mileage. Whether 350 miles is the right figure I am not sure. This would equal a minimum of five hours driving, not including breaks, while in towns and cities this could mean all day.'
Alan Miles, administration & data protection manager, RNIB
'YES. This is an area which is often overlooked. As responsible employers, we should be highlighting the risks involved in excessive daily mileages, particularly the cumulative effects over a number of days.'
Nigel Trotman, central services manager, Whitbread
'THERE is scope for mileage to be capped in certain areas. 350 miles is equal to the best part of six hours driving in any one day. More than that and there is the higher risk of tiredness. Maybe per day is not overly practical in the distribution industry or for national representatives. Perhaps it could be averaged over a five-day period.'
Sarah Messingham, fleet manager, J A Magson
'WE limit our drivers to a maximum of 400 miles per day but if evidence shows that 350 is the optimum maximum then we would seriously consider a revision to our policy.'
Phillippa Caine, company secretary, Corgi
'I WOULD like to think this would be possible but in reality it is not. Many businesses rely on drivers covering long distances on a daily basis, myself included. It has become commonplace for large businesses to centralise certain functions and therefore they rely on employees taking on a much larger geographical area of responsibility. This leads to increased time behind the wheel. This is far from ideal but the alternative for many would be unemployment.'
John Clarke, Fleet Services (South), Telewest
'NO. While employers have a responsibility to ensure good safe practice the onus must clearly be on the driver. Employers should encourage drivers to use this as a benchmark. As employers we should help educate drivers to plan their trips more efficiently, car share, promote both regular breaks and, where appropriate, overnight stops.'
Mick Donovan, group fleet manager, Bowmer & Kirkland
'NO. Mileage is not an indication of the level of tiredness or stress. For example, which is more stressful, a two-hour drive on the M25, including a one-hour traffic jam, or a two-hour trouble-free drive up the A1? I know which I would rather do.'
Tony Leigh, chairman, Association of Car Fleet Operators
'SETTING a maximum daily mileage is not always practicable because of varying journey and weather conditions. Journeys which require driving for most of the working day should always be kept to a minimum. Line managers should bear this in mind and not expect the driver to drive excessive miles. We recommend a 15-minute break after two hours of continuous driving.'
Audrey Milne, group fleet manager, Bayer
'WHILE on face value it seems a good idea, capping the mileage is likely to prove detrimental to companies and drivers. We are a same-day courier company and regularly send drivers on 400–600 mile round trips. If the drivers were forced to stop we would have to charge substantially more and the driver has the inconvenience of having to stay away from home. Under this scheme, a London to Glasgow journey would take three days.'
P.C, Details supplied
'A CAP of 350 miles per day does not really address the overall issue. I would be more inclined to support a cumulative figure per week which allows some flexibility.'
R.C.L, Details supplied
'YES. Since this equates to well over 80,000 mile per annum, one wonders how any work other than driving could be achieved. For delivery drivers this may be acceptable, but for anyone who may be involved in meetings, etc. even this level may be too high to be safe.'
Mike Rowney, East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust
'DRIVERS will still take the risk and drive home because they do not want to stay away. Every company should have a risk management policy to manage all aspects of work-related driving. There is a cost element involved in changing drivers' routines and areas. Drivers need to plan and be flexible on how much of their driving is really necessary. Video conferencing, arranging appointments halfway and so on are clearly options.'
Diane Miller, fleet manager, Kingston in Business
'IF this or greater mileage is to be covered in a day then an overnight stay could be stipulated or alternatives such as rail/air considered seriously.'
Tony Cock, British & Brazilian Produce (Sales)
'WHAT happens when the employee has 360 miles to do and is unable to stay away? Under the proposal he/she would be forced to stay away. The idea is unworkable - let's see what can be done with commonsense from drivers and employers alike.'
Ian Smith, group accountant, CpiO
'THERE is a need to apply some commonsense limits to length of time spent driving. I think this is another case of looking what limitations are imposed on the professionals in heavy goods vehicles. These rules would form a good basis for any fleet manager.'
Bill Pinkney, Transport Consultancy Services
'CAR and van drivers should be required to maintain the same high disciplines as HGV drivers. There should be limits on times travelled without a break, a minimum break time and so on. But a mileage limit would be wrong, as 350 miles travelled on an empty motorway is quite different from 350 miles across mid-Wales.'
G.R, Details supplied
'I RECOMMEND that companies take professional advice with regard to occupational road risk and not just take a stab at it. Health and safety is already a major factor in the running of company car fleets and those companies who have no in-house expertise should think seriously about getting some very quickly.'
Barry Lingard, fleet manager, Leisure Link
'THE current system for PSV and HGVs will have many drivers covering far in excess of 350 miles without any safety problems. The fatigue on any individual has to take account of their full daily schedule.'
P.M, Details supplied
'NO. Road travel should be risk assessed as for other company activities. Driving 350 miles in London in a day is a lot different from spending five hours on a motorway doing the same distance.'
Paul Owen, manager, administration services, Rio Tinto
'THIS would represent another layer of bureaucratic interference. A degree of risk exists with every commercial journey undertaken. The best judge of what is safe must, in the first instance, be the driver.'
David Mullins, administration manager, Slough Estates