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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Drink-drive message is seriously flawed

SIR – Regarding your story ‘Call for lower limit as drink cases rise’ (Fleet NewsNet, January 19), why is it that every time we get drink-drive figures we blame the drivers for not heeding the message, when the message itself is flawed?

‘Don’t drink-drive’ is about as useful as ‘don’t crash’. Until we start telling drivers HOW not to drink- drive, nothing will change.

Telling people not to do something, or that it’s bad for them, doesn’t bring about change: ask 100 smokers if smoking is good for them and 98 will say ‘No!’ and light up another one.

What we have to do is change their attitude and therefore their behaviour, like we do on the Department for Transport’s three-day Drink Drive Rehabilitation Courses.

Many of the thousands of convicted drivers we meet say they wished their employers had offered them a half-day version of the course before they were convicted. They believe they would not have committed the offence if they had had the time to consider the effects and ramifications of their actions prior to the event – the low re-offending rate (less than 1%) supports this.

We need some knowledge – to know that a pint of Guinness will take a minimum of two hours to process; a large glass of wine up to four hours; that you can’t estimate your alcohol level with any accuracy; and that the only way to drive is alcohol-free.

To say ‘don’t drink-drive’ is not enough. We need to be able to calculate when we will be alcohol-free and therefore fit to drive.

Roger Singer
Course organiser Driver Education

We support the spread of CCTV – up to a point

SIR – I read with interest your story on a UK spy system tracking fleet drivers (Fleet NewsNet, January 5). Back in 2002, we revealed that we were seeing more and more closed circuit television being installed and being used to watch company motorists in minute detail.

Since then, there’s been a significant rise in the number of letters we’ve received after drivers have been CCTV’d leaving their cars on double yellow lines while they pick up their Chinese takeaway. We pass the letters – and the fines – on to the fleet manager. A small number of company car drivers suspected of kerb crawling have also been reported to Lex by the police.

We applaud the installation of CCTV across our road network as we believe it improves safety for drivers, especially in urban areas. Equally, company motorists parking in unauthorised areas can also cause real problems and we welcome the use of CCTV to penalise these people who cause problems for other road users.

As the ultimate owner of 170,000 cars, equipping all CCTV cameras to read number plates and networking them for national police use gives us another means of keeping an eye on our precious fleet, especially those vehicles that have been stolen.

But where we have to tread very carefully is if the use of CCTV goes beyond safety and managing road legislation and becomes another useful form of revenue for the local authority. We will watch progress with interest.

Peter Knights
General manager, communications, Lex Vehicle Leasing

I want my child in the front seat

SIR – I’ve worked in the fleet industry for more than eight years, but have only just found what I see as a fundamental flaw in vehicle design.

Having recently discovered the joys of fatherhood, I’ve noticed that the cars I can choose – such as the Audi A4, BMW 1, 3 and 5-series, Mercedes-Benz C-class and E-class and Saab 9-3 – do not give me the option to switch off the passenger airbag and I am uncomfortable with a rear-facing child seat in the back.

The one vehicle that allows me to switch off the front passenger airbag is the Volkswagen Passat.

It’s not that I dislike the Passat – it’s a fine car. It’s just that for the middle to senior management company car driver (who typically would prefer something along the lines of a BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi), there’s not a great deal to choose from if they have a young family and want to carry a child in the front passenger seat.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds this a problem.

Mark Winn
National sales manager, Platinum Fleet Management

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