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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor John Maslen.

Make better use of the data you have

SIR – I wholeheartedly agree with Jeremy Hay’s comments on the fleet risk industry (Your opinion, Fleet NewsNet, May 19).

Isn’t it amazing how many instant ‘experts’ have appeared on the scene since it became fashionable to indulge in the sabre rattling about the doom facing company directors and fleet managers?

Ensuring the safety of those who drive at work is a very serious business, but there is a risk of some suppliers bringing discredit to the industry by overstating the content of the HSE’s guidelines on occupational road risk and by supplying training and consultancy services that are below par.

In my 16 years’ experience of working with fleets – not just supplying driver training, but also consulting, designing and implementing support systems – I have found that very often fleet managers or health and safety managers just have to make better use of information systems they already have.

Managers trained to analyse that information more effectively can see for themselves what they need to do to enhance safety. They also need to ensure that training is targeted to meet requirements. If the HSE was going to start locking people up and throwing away the key they would have started doing so by now – it is morally right that those who operate motor vehicles on the roads should look closely at the risks involved, but let’s keep it sensible.

Stuart Gemmell
Managing director, mac driving excellence

Directors must see the risks

SIR – I have much sympathy for the fleet manager referred to in your article ‘Directors spurned our licence checks’ (Fleet NewsNet, June 16).

Having been on a fleet safety course to appraise myself of what is required to set up an effective risk management policy, I have to agree that lack of support is common among companies – many are not taking the issue seriously enough.

But we are shortly to introduce online driving licence checks and these have the full support of the management, as does the new move towards an effective risk management policy.

Are those not taking risk management seriously simply waiting for a fatality and an HSE investigation?

That’s foolish in the extreme, just taking into account the potential negative publicity and loss of revenue.

Tracy Mendoza
Fleet manager, HSBC Insurance Brokers

Points scheme could help cut congestion

SIR – The vast majority of motorists will agree that something must be done to protect us all from congestion (‘Pay-as-you-drive to hit fleets hard’, Fleet NewsNet June 9).

The cost of car ownership has spiralled over the last 10 years. Road tax has been increased, fuel tax has risen, and the stealth tax on company car drivers is soaring.

But none of these measures have had an effect on peoples’ decisions to buy cars nor, therefore, on congestion.

In fact, the number of cars on British roads has continued to increase and will continue to do so. Increasing the cost of ownership is not the answer, because one of the largest sectors of motoring, the company car fleet, will just pass the higher costs on to their customers.

A brave Government, with a genuine desire to reduce congestion, would introduce the same technology as for the road-pricing scheme but use the information for a completely different purpose.

I believe the scheme would have a greater effect if the information were to be used to reduce the costs for those who leave their car at home, or don’t use it during the rush hour and bank holidays.

For example: a company car driver could earn points for the time when their car travels under a certain distance each day, or chooses to travel outside the rush hour.

Extra points could be earned if the car remained stationary for a whole day. These could even be converted into a percentage discounted off company car tax.

If fuel and road tax were abolished in favour of this scheme, the same discounting system could be applied to private car drivers. We all want to save money.

On the subject of congestion, some statistics are never used when looking at the problem. I travel about 20,000 miles each year, and have done so for the last 20 years. I rarely get caught in congestion, but when I do, the biggest culprit is badly planned roadworks.

I work in Bradford but I live in Leeds. I leave home at 7am, travel through central Leeds at 7.15am and arrive in Bradford at 7.30am.

Aside from traffic lights, my car is hardly ever stationary. But just recently the Highways Department allowed three major roadwork projects in Bradford on the only three roads from Leeds – and my journey time has doubled.

Clifford Sherwood
Tankersafe, Bradford

Spare a thought for delivery drivers

SIR – As dealerships, auctions and storage sites buzz with the activity of shifting used stock to the market, could I ask you all to spare a thought for the trade plate driver?

They juggle the collecting and delivering of up to three vehicles every day, together with arranging public transport or lifts to get to the next job. They are increasingly facing delays when collecting and delivering, which impacts on their ability to complete their day’s work and which can lead to failed jobs later in the day, which none of us want.

Trade plate drivers are an essential but undervalued part of the industry; any help you can give them will be appreciated to get your vehicles where you want them on time.

Michael Hutchings
Managing director, United Fleet Distribution, Birmingham

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