Fleet News

Health and safety is hot topic for 2004

AN exclusive Fleet News survey has revealed fleet decision-makers are putting health and safety at the top of their agenda for the year ahead.

The survey – one of the biggest carried out in the industry – involved more than 200 companies and was carried out in partnership with Lex Vehicle Leasing. It asked fleets to list the key issues they believed they would face in the next year. Fleets voted health and safety and duty of care to drivers as the most important issue facing them in the next 12 months.

The importance placed on health and safety shows the impact that Government initiatives have had on fleets during the past few months.

In September last year, the Health and Safety Executive revealed new guidance on work-related road safety, naming fleet managers as the key to changing the way employers and suppliers treat risk.

Hot on its heels came a ban on the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving, along with a pledge by the Government to introduce a new corporate manslaughter law despite the proposed legislation being omitted from the Queen's Speech.

A corporate manslaughter Bill is expected to be introduced during 2004, Government sources have insisted.

In recognition of the number of new demands fleets are facing, decision-makers have placed legislation as the second biggest issues they will face this year, but traditional issues still loom large.

Managing vehicle running costs, part of the core role of the fleet decision-maker, is the third most important issue fleets believe they will face.

The growing row over speed cameras and the difficulties it causes for fleet drivers have pushed speeding high up the agenda, as the fourth most important issue. The issue has become so sensitive that road safety charity Brake has reported some anti-speed camera activists have issued threats against its chief executive Mary Williams.

Fuel prices are another key issue, followed by winning management support for new projects, advising drivers of company car tax bands and vehicle residual values.

With experts saying the M6 toll road is proving a success, the potential for nationwide congestion charging and road tolls is the ninth biggest issue for fleets, while free fuel for private mileage is placed 10th.

Cash-for-car schemes were put at the bottom of the agenda by most fleet decision-makers, proving the long-term value of the company car.

Although most companies offer a cash-for-car scheme, the level of take up is relatively small.

Finally, the least important issue on the agenda for fleet decision-makers is alternative fuels. Its poor showing among fleets comes in the light of an announcement in the pre-Budget Report that large fuel duty discounts for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the most common alternative fuel, will be slashed over the next three years.

In his report, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said the environmental benefits on offer from LPG no longer justified the level of support it currently received.

Top 10 fleet issues

1. Health and safety/duty of care responsibilities to drivers
2. Legislation
3. Vehicle running costs
4. Speeding/speed cameras
5. Fuel prices
6. Winning management support for key projects
7. Advising drivers of company car tax bands
8. Residual values
9. Congestion charging/road tolls
10. Free fuel for private mileage
Source: Fleet News/Lex Vehicle Leasing

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