Fleet News

Fleets suffer over focus on safety

FLEETS are focusing on health and safety issues at the expense of other core vehicle management roles and could be pushing up costs as a result.

Companies have rightly spent years of sustained emphasis on the need for fleets to tackle the safety of employees while driving at work and keep up to date with the latest legislation.

But so much management attention has been turned to a single area that other fundamentals of running a safe fleet may be being ignored.

The fears are voiced by one of Britain’s leading contract hire and leasing companies, Lex Vehicle Leasing.

It has uncovered evidence of a trend among fleet operators to place a high priority on safety, but at the expense of other key areas of vehicle management.

Discussions with more than 200 fleet operators about their current priorities have added weight to the company’s fears.

Health and safety is at the top of most fleet managers’ agendas and is certain to remain there with the current Government consultation on a new Corporate Manslaughter Bill.

Some of the more high-profile side issues, such as controlling fuel and running costs, were placed at a relatively high level.

But issues such as tackling fines for speeding, parking and non-payment of congestion charges have been given a relatively low priority.

Lex Vehicle Leasing managing director Jon Walden said: ‘It is good to see so many companies taking the whole corporate liability subject so seriously.

‘But drivers incurring fines are wasting a huge amount of time and money and already we estimate it is costing the fleet industry in the region of £100 million, which is crazy.

‘This money could be better spent on further improving company safety initiatives or to help fund the central fleet function.’

Lex has administered nearly 70,000 fines in the past year and the number has steadily increased over the past few years.

The Fleet News FN50 list of the largest contract hire and leasing firms in the country by fleet size revealed that the problem had increased in the past 12 months to such an extent that leasing companies were creating new departments to deal with it.

For fleet operators using fleet management or leasing providers, there is not only the cost of a fine, but also an administration charge to deal with for each offence.

Other areas few fleets seem concerned with is free fuel for private mileage, despite many companies still providing the perk for their drivers.

Research has consistently shown that the ‘perk’ is no longer a benefit for many drivers and they in fact pay more in benefit-in-kind taxation for receiving it than the value of the free fuel they use.

One key area that ranked highly in the 2005 survey, the third annual report carried out by Lex, was the environment. It showed that companies are now also examining more wide-ranging issues, such as whether journeys are necessary in the first place and whether they could be completed on alternative transport.

  • Issues surrounding both corporate and financial risk will be covered at the forthcoming Fleet News Spring Conference – entitled ‘Double Jeopardy’. It will take place on May 26 at the National Motorcycle Museum and will feature a host of key industry speakers.
    For details, contact Sandra Evitt on 01733 468123 or email luke.clements@emap.com

    Top 10 issues for fleets
    1. Health and safety/Duty of care to drivers
    2. Choosing cost/tax-efficient cars
    3. Vehicle running costs/fuel prices
    4. Legislation
    5. Environment
    6. Speeding fines/speed cameras
    7. Residual values
    8. Offering cash-for-car schemes
    9. Free fuel for private mileage
    10. Congestion charging

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