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Cash-for-car poses big risks for fleet bosses

SIR – Your comment article on the loneliness of the cash-for-car driver who has been abandoned by the fleet department (Fleet NewsNet, March 3) also highlights the enormous risks being run by some company directors.
Some unstructured cash-for-car arrangements are little more than bribes to drivers so the business can wash its hands of company cars. Whatever their motivation, some employers are sailing perilously close to the wind on directors’ liabilities over occupational road safety.
Cash-for-car drivers don’t merely go into limbo or sink into a quiet corner of hell reserved for ungrateful ex-company car drivers. They still drive on business. The company is still legally responsible for the condition of drivers’ own cars whenever they use them for work.
Fleet managers may feel entitled to turn their backs on cash-for-car drivers but I would suggest for their own sake – and that of their bosses – that they first download and read the HSE’s free guide to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations (PUWER), 1998.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with offering cash as an alternative to cars – as long as employers fully understand the implications.
Your leader painted a vivid picture of an ashen-faced cash-for-car driver turning up in the fleet department clutching the ‘bill from hell’ for essential work on his car. Well, the law is absolutely clear that if the fleet department turns him away and if he has an accident in his unrepaired vehicle while driving to a work appointment, the police can and in time probably will come down on the firm like a ton of bricks.
And who will be ashen-faced then? The correct response to the situation would probably be to book the driver a hire car for work journeys until he or she gets their own car repaired. When you look at the cost implications of offering cash in this way, the case for providing company cars may become much stronger than the employer first thought.
Structured cash-for-car schemes, such as ECOs, provide much stronger safeguards around the condition and maintenance of cars owned by employees.
It is true that they are not right for all companies – although where they are, they are highly effective at widening driver choice and reducing the employer’s costs.
For almost everyone else, rules like PUWER make it clear that cars used for work can never be ‘out of the sight (ie off the fleet), out of mind’.
Firms need to exercise extreme care when offering unstructured cash alternatives. Moreover, it is clearly time for a wholesale re-evaluation of the drift away from effectively funded and managed company car fleets.

Richard Schooling
Commercial director, Alphabet (GB)

Tyre sealants have come a long way

SIR – As a responsible installer of tyre sealants for cars, motorcycles, agricultural equipment and commercial vehicles, it causes me great concern to read Mr Crompton’s comments (Fleet NewsNet, January 20) on how tyre sealants can cause wheel imbalance.
They are indicative of the ignorant, old-fashioned opinion of modern tyre sealants from a small minority of elder members within the industry.
Twenty years ago, his comments may have been valid but, as with most products, technology has moved a long way since then.
To briefly respond to his misjudged comments, Superseal is only installed by professionals and guaranteed against causing a wheel imbalance. Modern tyre sealants are marketed as a puncture prevention and never sold as a puncture repair.
As soon as the tyre is punctured (up to the legal limit of a tread area 6mm in diameter puncturing object for cars, 12mm for commercial vehicles) the sealant is guaranteed to permanently seal any air loss, therefore preventing any structural damage.
Further to his comments, the sealant is actually most beneficial to high-performance vehicles and motorcycles because they have the most to lose from tyre deflation.
We believe Superseal tyre sealant significantly extends the legal working life of a tyre. Therefore, to expect the BRMA and tyre manufactures who obviously have a vested interest in selling as many tyres as possible to recommend a product that could potentially decrease their sales by at least 25%, is just naive.
I would suggest that readers research and/or test for themselves modern sealants and not dismiss the financial and safety benefits because of uninformed comments.

Brian Rhodes
Owner, Superseal Gatwick

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