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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor John Maslen

Fleet management means thinking ‘out of the box’ on some occasions

SIR – I just have to come back in response to Lorraine Farnon’s letter, taking me to task over the notion that there might just possibly be an alternative to her product (Your opinion, September 1).

The fleet industry is too full of people who believe that the product or service they are selling is the only one available for one aspect or another of fleet operations.

In over 35 years in UK and other markets, I have never found this to be the case. The fleet market is just too complex and sophisticated.

We often claim to have about the most mature fleet market in the world – it is also the most diverse, precisely because this fantastic industry has worked to create so many solutions.

Car rental is a great product. Helpline readers know just how many times I have recommended intelligent use of rental services as part of a good solution to fleet issues and problems.

But note ‘intelligent’ – the use of rental is entirely inappropriate in many cases. So it was with this particular case – a point I thought had come out clearly in my paraphrasing of the question. I defy Ms Farnon or any rental company to prove that two taxi bills of about £8-£10 each, and no parking issues, is not a better solution for this case than a one-day rental with delivery/collection, insurance, parking and fuelling all to be considered.

I did not suggest that taxi use should be left to chance hailing from the streets.

Local taxi businesses can and do offer account customers ‘guaranteed’ service levels that can – or should be – every bit as meaningful and valid as those from any rental company.

Managing fleet and employee travel costs is not about using a very limited number of choices.

It’s about thinking outside the box and looking at solving problems – not just going for the obvious quick fix every time.

Ms Farnon’s point about management information is right, but the running order is the right service, properly reported – not excellent reports for the wrong solution.

STEWART WHYTE Director, Fleet Audits

Road charge plan leaves many questions

SIR – The Government has plans to reduce congestion by using satellite technology to track vehicle usage and charge for road use. Road tax and fuel duty would be abolished.

The use of technology to reduce congestion has to be a good thing, but there are aspects of the proposals that need close attention.

The current system of road tax and fuel duty encourages drivers to move to greener, lower-emissions, lower-mpg vehicles and it seems that this aspect of the plan needs to be thought through because if everyone pays the same for driving a mile on a particular stretch of road, there will be no incentive to drive greener cars.

By doing away with road tax we will also lose the annual check that every car is insured and has a valid MoT. The Government must find a way to replace this valuable check and I suspect that a technological solution will be proposed, linking together the relevant databases to identify those cars that are on the road without an MoT or valid insurance.

Then there is a human rights and privacy issue. Many won’t like the idea of an infrastructure that allows the Government to track their movements minute by minute.

We might have enjoyed relatively benign governments over the years, compared with many other parts of the world, but this may not always be the case.

Giving them a tool to be able to track everyone’s movements is not something that everyone will feel comfortable about, however law-abiding they may be. I suspect that this will be the one aspect that will be debated most loudly and many will hope that adequate safeguards can be found to ensure Big Brother can never misuse this information.

Finally, on a lighter note, I noticed that the proposed fees range from 2p per mile to £1.34 per mile. We can expect to hear a lot of anguished cries about why it should be necessary for granny to pay 2p to drive on empty rural roads at night, when there is no other traffic on the road and no public transport alternative.

The Government is going to have to do a lot of work to convince everyone that this is a good idea.

By email

Who’s at fault?

SIR – I feel the need for a little gripe about the number of both new and old vehicles on the roads today with severe mechanical and electrical defects.

I regularly see cars and vans of all makes and sizes with no indicators working, as well as vehicles with steering problems and faults – they just wander across lanes, veering in and out of the traffic.

It’s a wonder more accidents don’t happen. You would have thought after all these years, the manufacturers would have all the problems sorted out. I think that someone needs to have a word!

Prompt Vehicle Deliveries

Idea is a shocker

SIR – I read with horror that Volvo has developed a breathalyser which unless green disables your vehicle.

There are occasions when any sane person would actually drive a vehicle while over the limit. This is from someone who drove his dying three-year-old son to hospital. My wife was in the back giving the kiss of life. No time even to ring an ambulance.


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