The findings, revealed in an exclusive Fleet News' survey carried out in partnership with Lex Vehicle Leasing, will provide a boost to Government ministers who have been calling for Britain's fleet executives to do more to cut road accidents and deaths. An industry commitment to safety on the road comes as civil servants hammer out proposed legislation banning the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving.
It also follows a year in which fleet driver safety was continually in the spotlight, as ministers tried to push through new laws that would make it easier to prosecute employers, including fleet executives, if poor management resulted in one of their staff being involved in a fatal accident on the road.
In our survey, fleet safety was given the highest priority, ahead of the second most important issue – preparing drivers for alterations to company car taxation rates in April, showing that employers are determined to help drivers choose vehicles with the lowest emissions and, therefore, the lowest tax liability. Changes to the levels of National Insurance Contributions at the same time are rated as the third most important issue.
Concern over fuel prices is the fourth most pressing topic for this year, according to leading fleets, with the cash-for-car conundrum placed fifth.
Congestion charging, which goes live in London in February, is the sixth most important issue, while residual values, rated seventh, are still a concern to many.
The impact of the EU Fourth Motor Insurance Directive, which comes into force at the end of this month, alternative fuels and the supply of spare parts make up the final three places of the top 10 concerns for 2003.
Nearly 200 decision-makers were interviewed for the survey and they also listed their New Year resolutions for work to be carried out on the fleet.
Most (72%) said they would incorporate more low-emission cars on to their fleets, while 66% said they would reassess future provision of free fuel for private mileage, and 59% would look at cash-for-car schemes.
A further 48% were looking at driver training for staff and 31% planned to consider taking alternatively-fuelled vehicles on to the fleet. Also, 37% were looking to change a service supplier.
However, despite the vast range of new challenges facing fleet-decision makers, only 13% said they planned to pursue formal training in fleet management.
Jon Walden, managing director of Lex Vehicle Leasing, said: 'We've seen a real shift in the issues concerning fleet professionals over the past 12 months and not surprisingly the impact of corporate manslaughter legislation is hitting home. 'From rewriting mobile phone usage policies to introducing driver training programmes, there are many practical low cost items that fleets have been encouraged to adopt,' said Walden.