Fleet News

Suppliers keep watch and prepare to offer advice

FLEET suppliers watched the Queen’s Speech closely to see what effect it would have on their businesses – and what it would mean to the way they help customers.

Duncan Wilkes, managing director of RAC Business Solutions, said new corporate manslaughter laws were unlikely to be introduced until the end of next year.

He said this gives fleets time to ‘get their houses in order in order in the way their activities are organised and managed’.

Wilkes added: ‘Fleets which are already undertaking their health and safety obligation with clear arrangements and practices in place have nothing to fear and no new burdens will be placed on them. The draft Bill is designed to focus responsibility on the working practices of the organisation, as set by senior managers, rather than on questions of individual gross negligence.’

ALD Automotive deputy managing director Nigel Fletcher said the a number of fleets had contacted the company for advice.

He added: ‘While the management of occupational road risk has been high up the agenda of some companies for a long time, many companies have until now only paid lip service to its importance.

‘The volume of inquiries we have received in recent weeks from companies for help is, we believe, a direct result of the Government’s plan to introduce new corporate manslaughter legislation.’

AA Business Services director David Wallace said fleets should, at a minimum, have a policy document which is regularly reviewed and communicated to company car drivers.

Wallace added: ‘This legislation means it would be the most senior person who has responsibility for fleet who would be accountable.

‘If they were found to have failed in their duty of care responsibilities, the company itself could be prosecuted.’ Daily rental company Avis said the implications of the Bill could be felt by small businesses which have not taken on board the Health & Safety Executive’s Driving at Work guidelines.

A spokesman said: ‘Small and medium-sized enterprises are largely unaware of recent regulations affecting staff when travelling on business’

Graham Hale, head of corporate business for Bank of Scotland Vehicle Finance, said: ‘Employers would be wise to ensure that employees have safe working practices and that company cars are in a safe condition.’

Terry Bartlett, managing director of Inchcape Fleet Solutions said: ‘The noose is tightening around the neck of rogue fleets – and that is the majority of companies in Britain. Fleets which have failed to introduce best practice risk management measures are in the last chance saloon.’

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