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Responsibility vacuum needs to be addressed

SIR – The recent example of the solicitor who drove 100,000 miles on company business without recourse to a proper vehicle service should start the alarm bells ringing with anyone who has responsibility for managing or procuring corporate vehicle provision (Fleet NewsNet, March 3).
However, I would suggest this scenario is not only restricted to the contract hire sector.
What concerns me firstly about this story is not just the fact that the car was clearly not being maintained properly, with all the health and safety implications that brings for the driver. In addition, it seems that the driver’s line manager or designated company director was either unaware of – or indifferent to – her driving behaviour.
This lack of accountability from both the employer and the vehicle provider creates a terrifying vacuum of responsibility.
As increasing legislation and paperwork makes the fleet manager’s role ever more complex, the proper identification, assessment and management is absolutely vital. In too many firms, however, the fleet management role continues to be carried out by someone who lacks any specific training or is not given a dedicated role within the business.
Fleet management should be a core business function alongside, for example, human resources and facilities management. It needs to be considered as such at board level and given the necessary resources and expertise to allow it to be carried out effectively and safely.
Whether it is contract hire or some other form of funding, outsourcing the responsibility for providing and maintaining vehicles for employees on company business is a sensible way of an employer meeting its duty of care to employees.

Stuart Donnelly
Head of fleet management, Inspire Fleet Solutions

How many smarts in a jam?

SIR – I write regarding your story on the use of smart cars to reduce congestion. Mathematically, you can get four of the 3m cars and only three of any 4m cars in a 12m gap. Now that represents a one-third saving (or is it a quarter?).
But when we look at driving, then vehicle length is only a small proportion of safe driving distances.
Safety should be any driver’s top concern and if we allow for stopping distances of, say, 12m at 20mph, then at best they could save about 7% and not the third the study reveals. I don’t doubt there is video evidence and I support greener measures but am I missing something here?

Tom Yeomans
Information and fleet controller, Three Valleys Housing

Speed, safety and drivers’ attitudes

SIR – It is good to see you highlighting some readers’ common-sense views about the RAC Motoring Services survey and the current obsession with speeding as a criminal act (Fleet NewsNet, February 10). A review of all speed limits – particularly on motorways, where 85mph is perfectly safe in a modern car (sensibly driven, of course) – is, as your readers state, way overdue.
Driver attitudes still, however, need to be changed, as does the average driver’s perception of risk. Talking on hand-held mobile phones, reading maps or adjusting make-up while driving are one thing, but the number of cars I follow at 40mph on an unrestricted A-road which continue at the same speed after entering a 30mph zone is something else. Is this ignorance or just disregard for speed limits?

John Atkinson
By email

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