They voiced their worries after hearing a list of the issues they would have to tackle, from monitoring drivers’ hours and the vehicles they used to taking care of drivers on business in private cars and educating staff about anti-lock brakes.
One fleet operator told the meeting of the East Anglia region of the Association of Car Fleet Operators: ‘This is all really scary stuff, but you can’t make board directors understand this.
‘I will admit I don’t know how to do it. Fleet managers are just not trained for doing all these things.’ The meeting also heard claims that there is already case law of families of drivers killed while driving on business who have successfully sued their employers for compensation equivalent to 30 years’ salary.
On being told that responsibilities could range from training drivers about all the equipment in their cars to showing them how locking wheelnuts work, one fleet operator said: ‘So are we meant to be mechanics now? We seem to be taking all the responsibility away from the drivers.’
The focus on health and safety and duty of care has grown significantly in recent years and pressure on companies is certain to get more intense, with lawyers claiming it is only a matter of time before a company ends up in the spotlight following an accident involving one of its drivers.
The Government has stressed that it will support fleets in their work, putting in place funding and a programme to help them become safer, cleaner and better-run (Fleet NewsNet, October 20).
Although it is too early say what might be offered, Transport Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman told an Agenda for Action conference: ‘The fleet manager will become more of a transport and mobility controller – coping with the travelling needs of the workforce – from fleet acquisition and upkeep, contract hire and disposals to booking rail or air journeys for employees or linking people through video conferencing.’