Fleet News

Fleets attacked for road safety failings

A MAJOR survey carried out by one of Britain's biggest leasing companies has found fleets are failing to introduce measures to reduce the number of accidents involving their drivers.

LeasePlan says that one-third of UK traffic accidents involve a company car but as many as three-quarters of businesses are not protecting themselves from the 'potentially crippling' effects of a corporate liability claim.

It adds that nearly two-thirds (68%) of businesses are not implementing procedures to limit the number of working hours employees spend on the road for business.

UK businesses need to seriously consider reducing the number of hours employees spend on the road, it adds, in light of industry research that shows driver fatigue may be responsible for up to 350 deaths and 4,000 injuries on the road each year.

The research was conducted among 380 organisations with company car fleets. LeasePlan UK managing director Howard Thomas said: 'Companies need to implement risk management procedures so the possibility of driver accidents are reduced and the company is not exposed to the damaging effects of a corporate liability claim.

'Although the proposed corporate liability laws will not become statute for at least another 12 months, fleet decision-makers and businesses need to urgently review company car policies and procedures to avoid falling foul of corporate liability.'

Thomas added: 'Our research has found that although the company vehicle has been defined as a place of work for more than 30 years, and so it comes under the Health and Safety regulations – the majority of businesses are not protecting their business and, as importantly, their employees.'

The report found that other potential risks include:

  • Adequate insurance – companies need more robust processes to ensure that non-company car drivers are insured adequately. The research found that nearly a third (28%) of businesses had no checking procedures to guarantee employees are adequately insured to use private cars for business.
  • Proficient driver training – most businesses are reactive rather than proactive about the safety proficiency of its company car drivers. The research found that the majority of businesses are not providing driver training (59%) – and those that do are more likely to provide training to a driver with a history of accidents or points on their licence (43%) and therefore are neglecting a large proportion of their workforce.
  • Only a third (34%) of fleets are turning to their vehicle and leasing provider for information on corporate liability.

    LeasePlan says firms should consult their corporate lawyer and leasing supplier to ensure that the business is more risk conscious. For those businesses that are negligent, the Health & Safety Executive will not draw any distinction between a commercial vehicle driver and a company car driver. Ultimately, the company directors could be prosecuted for neglecting to mitigate risk.

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