Fleet News

Fleet News exclusive: DfT ‘hypocrisy’ over risk policy

THE Department for Transport has no idea how many accidents its employees have while driving for work or how many vehicles it operates, prompting accusations of hypocrisy and double standards from the fleet and road safety industry.

Department for Transport Minister David Jamieson told MPs in Parliament recently: ‘The number of road vehicles operated by the department and its agencies is not recorded centrally and neither is the number of personal injury accidents.’

Further investigation by Fleet News found nobody within the department who could supply the information. Figures on the number of accidents Department for Transport staff have while driving for work are not held by the Government Car and Despatch Agency either, as this agency looks after primarily ministerial vehicles for the department.

In total, more than 500,000 people work for the Department for Transport and its agencies throughout the country. Such is its size that responsibility for occupational road risk management has been delegated to each agency chief executive, Jamieson added.

However, centrally within the DfT there appears to be no facility for measuring what is happening when its staff drive for work, either in private cars or in Government vehicles.

Kevin Delaney, head of traffic and road safety for the RAC Foundation, said: ‘The fact that David Jamieson doesn’t know, or that the information doesn’t appear to be in a readily retrievable form, is a cause for concern. The department does not know whether the crash record among its drivers is getting better, or worse, or going round in circles.’

Stewart Whyte, Association of Car Fleet Operators director and managing director of consultancy Fleet Audits, said: ‘It’s a disgrace. Here is a man who tells people they have to get their act together and that road safety is one of the major problems we face.

‘It’s a case of ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and it makes a mockery of the notion of the Government being a best practice exemplar.’

The department does have an at-work driving policy for central staff. Jamieson said it includes advice for staff and line managers on vehicle roadworthiness, alcohol/drugs, driver tiredness and illness, mobile phones, weather, driver competence and the availability of driver training, and is currently being reviewed and updated.

In a written answer to Parliament, Jamieson added: ‘In the department’s agencies, responsibility for occupational health and safety management arrangements is delegated to agency chief executives. The agencies either have their own policy to suit their specific business needs or they have to follow the central policy.’

In further written answers, other sections of Government, including The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport could all quote the number of vehicles they operated, although only the Treasury had personal injury accident figures available.

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