THIS coming year will bring as many tough new challenges to the fleet manager as previous years - in the world of fleet management nothing stands still.
Health and Safety stands out as being the major topic for the coming year. With new guidance on work related road safety and the new mobile phone legislation being issued in the later half of 2003, fleet managers have had a tough time ensuring that their organisations' fleet policies have been amended to reflect these changes.
Now, the Corporate Manslaughter Bill anticipated in late 2004 will add an extra dimension to the task of fleet management. There is now the potential for prosecution of the employer of a driver who causes injury to others if the organisation is found to be in breach of their duty of care to the driver. This means that an organisation has to be even more vigilant in ensuring that its vehicle fleet is managed and operated in a manner that is risk adverse.
Some simple changes to the fleet policy can help in some circumstances - however the old 'tick box' style risk assessment approach will no longer be sufficient. To keep inline with this new legislation - and to be sure of reduced corporate liability - a more robust risk assessment, combined with formal audit and management procedures, must be instigated.
However, Health and Safety is but one aspect of a bigger picture. The Chancellor's Pre-Budget Report hinted at a new van taxation system; future changes to the current Benefit in Kind tax; new LPG duty rates; as well as potential changes to Vehicle Excise Duty rates. With all these likely to be revealed in April, and likely to continue to be based on carbon dioxide emissions, the Environment will continue to feature high on most companies agendas.
Fleet management oriented on Health and Safety should also take into account environmental factors. Of course, the Health and Safety aspect may well form the ideal stimulus to review the current fleet policy, and examine just what improvements may be made. Just half a typical replacement cycle – about 18 – 24 months – should see the financial gains outweigh any of the modest implementation costs - and the environmental gains will already have started to make an impact.
The good news is that these environmental benefits are effectively free! That's because, in general, improving fleet performance almost always results in better fuel economy and lower emissions, so environmental gains come as a bonus.
Better fleet management pays dividends in the long run both in terms of reduced environmental impact and reduced corporate liability. Do one and you will automatically be doing the other. It's good for business and good for the environment.
As an example Yorkshire Building Society reduced its fuel use by 24,800 litres over a two year period saving the company £18,575. This was achieved by adopting some simple fleet efficiency measures and implementing a green fleet strategy.
However, fleet managers can only do so much on their own. This is where the TransportEnergy BestPractice programme can help. With free advice and support available under this DfT funded scheme, fleet managers can begin to make the necessary changes to their fleet policies to ensure that their fleet is managed in a risk adverse and environmentally sensitive manner.
For more information on the advice and support on offer contact the TransportEnergy BestPractice Hotline on 0845 602 1425, or log onto our website at www.transportenergy.org.uk and follow the links to BestPractice.