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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor John Maslen.

Your car numbers just don’t add up

SIR – I really cannot let go unchallenged your story on ‘Number of company cars plummets again’ (Fleet NewsNet, August 18 ).

You report that ‘the number of company car drivers dropped by 70,000 to 1.3 million’. This number is at complete and utter variance with our own figures and, dare I say, your own FN50.

The FN50 for 2004 shows a total of 1.45 million, an increase of nearly 7% over 2003. In fact, the FN50 has increased every year since 1999.

Given that the FN50 relates only to contract-hired vehicles, one must also add in the other means of funding company cars such as outright purchase, finance lease, contract purchase and even hire purchase.

Our own contract hire figures correlate closely to those in the FN50 while our members report that they operate a further half a million cars, including fleet-managed vehicles.

In this latter category, there will obviously be a number of outright-purchased vehicles, but by no means all. Our best estimates show that BVRLA members operate around 65% of all company cars in the UK and since they have some two million cars, plus the fact that there is an additional number of outright-purchased cars, the grand total of company cars must be well in excess of three million.

I have deliberately excluded any reference to personally-leased vehicles in the numbers above as these should be outside the HMRC figure and have referred only to company-run cars where there is likely to be private use and thus a liability to BIK.

However, that still leaves a gaping hole in the numbers and since your FN50 numbers and ours, both arrived at independently, are so closely correlated, I am left with only one conclusion.

Robin Mackonochie
British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association

  • Ed – The figures were not our own, but are from an official report from HM Revenue & Customs. One reason for the discrepancy is that it covers tax-paying company car drivers.

    Log on to http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/taxable_benefits/menu.htm and click on taxable benefits in kind and expenses payments.

    Carolyn Howes, policy adviser at HM Revenue & Customs, will be speaking on company cars and taxation at the Fleet News Hit for Six conference on September 21 in Oxford. Details of the conference available at www.hitforsixconference.com.

    Who’s at fault at roadworks?

    SIR – Your report on deaths at roadworks – ‘Roadworker deaths prompt plea to drivers’ (Fleet NewsNet, September 1) – doesn’t say whether the roadworks company was in any way held to blame for these accidents.

    In my experience, the main cause of drivers failing to slow down is lack of evidence of any work being carried out – roadworkers often leave cones and warning signs in place even when they aren’t working. This causes frustration for motorists and reduced speed limits are frequently ignored as a result. I don’t condone speeding in roadworks, but the road repairers must take some of the blame.

    On some major routes, roadworks are in place over many miles even though the actual section being worked on is only a few hundred yards, if they are there at all. Try driving on the M6 from Junction 16 to 17. It’s no wonder some motorists become abusive.

    I am aware of one serious accident where the roadworkers had left signs in place even though nothing happened there for days on end. The driver who crashed simply ignored the signs because he didn’t expect anyone to be working there.

    It could, therefore, be argued that sign clutter contributed as much to the accident as the speeding driver.

    Ross Harris
    Fleet & procurement manager Fountains

    No wonder SMEs are confused

    SIR – Your September 1 issue indicated that not enough SMEs are taking driving at work sufficiently seriously. Could that be because they are confused on what actions they should be taking?

    You said company car drivers have the most serious accidents between 8am and 9pm. But an article earlier in the newspaper had the headline ‘UK’s busiest crash hour starts at midday’.

    It goes on to advise that these accidents are more likely to occur in the summer, contradicting research elsewhere which blames wet and slippery conditions. Now can you understand why companies are confused?

    John Lewis
    Director General, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association

  • Ed – The two pieces of research on crashes relate to different areas. The first was on general accident peaks and the second was specifically on company car drivers.

    However, the two pieces of research do support each other, as both state that there is a peak of crashes at 8am to 9am in the morning rush hour. The research that identified a peak at 8pm-9pm was carried out by the Department for Transport based on police reports in the Midlands and covered 2,111 accidents which were defined as work-related.

    In addition, the vehicles involved still belonged to the company, no matter what time they were driven, so looking at how these crashes could be avoided is just as important. We ran the stories as we received them and I can assure you we are not, never have been and never will be anti-company car.

  • Fleet News is delighted to receive readers’ letters. E-mail fleetnews@emap.com or write to: The Editor, Fleet News, Emap Automotive, Lynchwood, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough PE2 6EA. Please ensure that e-mails include name, job title, company and company address
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