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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor John Maslen.

Don’t rely on driver aids to reduce risks

SIR – Contrary to the theories put forward by correspondents on the letters page of August 18, there is only so much that technology can achieve in the reduction of road risk. In fact, overdependence on driver aids can lead to reduced driver awareness and make the road an even more dangerous place.

A flashing warning sign will make a driver pay increased attention at a particular location, but can result in a complacent mindset of ‘no sign = no danger’ at all other times.

Cruise control is a boon on free-flowing motorways, but is positively dangerous in the built-up areas where we find the majority of speed cameras. Just because the limit is 30mph or 40mph or 60mph doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe to travel at that speed in that particular place at that particular time.

The key to road safety is the powerful analytical machine that sits behind the wheel of every vehicle. Human error is the primary cause of the vast majority of incidents, so the logical step to address this problem is education.

Instead of taking vehicle control away from drivers, they should be encouraged to develop their driving skills so they can make better judgements in a constantly changing environment. This concept has been mooted in the forthcoming Road Safety Bill as an alternative to a fine and penalty points in certain circumstances, but wouldn’t it be far better to have drivers participate of their own volition rather than be forced into it?

Let’s be honest – in spite of the number of people we see using hand-held phones or driving without a seatbelt, the standard of driving in the UK is high. Unfortunately, the level of improvement in casualty statistics has been getting slower and lower in recent years. It would be a shame if our standards were to slip due to a narrow, blinkered view of how to address road safety and a focus on avoiding prosecution rather than on being a better driver.

Diarmuid E Fahy
Fleet risk manager, ING Car Lease, Bracknell

RX battery will last five years

SIR – Further to the letter from Tim Raven regarding the battery life on the RX 400h (Fleet News, August 25), we believe we can offer information which will be of benefit to Fleet News readers.

The nickel metal-hydride battery in the RX400h is guaranteed to last an absolute minimum of five years.

Reliability has been proven in the slightly lower-voltage version used in the Toyota Prius, with a failure rate of less than 0.1% since it went on sale in 1997.

The higher-voltage Lexus battery pack would cost approximately £3,400 to replace and would need a fitting time of 2.1 hours. The battery is made up of 30 separate cells, all recyclable.

Steve Settle
Director, Lexus (GB)

Mileage rates are unfair

SIR – I am becoming increasingly upset at having to subsidise my company in order to do my job. If my diesel car was 3cc more, I would be able to claim 4p a mile extra – all because my company insists on using the Inland Revenue figures.

What list of cars did they use to decide that 9p a mile is still fair? And why such a big jump to over 2.0 litres? At 95p a litre I need to average 48mpg around town (which is what my daily routine as a chartered surveyor involves). That’s impossible. The best my firm has offered is for staff to claim back the business proportion of their mileage every month.

Name withheld
Via email

John Robinson in our thoughts

SIR – I am sure that I am joined by many readers who were shocked and saddened by news of the sudden death of John Robinson (Fleet News, August 25). John was always a source of good advice and wise counsel to me and many fleet colleagues. Our thoughts go to his wife Maria.

Andrew Emerson
Community transport, manager, Elmbridge Borough Council, Surrey

  • Clarification

    SIR – I refer to the recent news item ‘Thatcham plans new LCV security ratings system’ (Fleet News, August 18). I would like to clarify certain information within the piece, specifically where the article refers to ‘a 10-star new vehicle security ratings scheme’. In fact, the LCV rating scheme is based on that of the passenger car – i.e, a five-star rating system awarded on a ‘theft of’ and ‘theft from’ basis. The 10-star scheme is used for HGVs only (vehicles over 3.5 tonnes).

    Lesley Upham
    Director of communications, Thatcham MIRRC

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