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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Time for a new benefit scale?

IN response to the letter ‘Drivers penalised by tax rule’ (Fleet News, January 4), the taxable benefit system is annoying to all company car drivers.

But if the benefit was based on price paid rather than list price, those working for very large companies running hundreds of company vehicles would undoubtedly pay less tax as a result of the lower purchase price their employer would no doubt be able to negotiate.

This would mean two employees working for different companies but driving exactly the same vehicle would pay different amounts of tax.

Unfortunately the list price system, annoying as it is, at least provides a level playing field.

Perhaps a new benefit scale should be considered, based completely upon emissions – for example, CO2 levels of below 150g/km would attract a benefit of £2,500, 151–175g/km £4,000, 176–200g/km £6,000, and over 200g/km £12,000.

Hopefully, if the rates were set appropriately we may get a few more drivers out of their gas-guzzling 4x4s.

Also, with regards to Roy Chamberlain’s letter ‘Full-size spare is essential’ (Fleet News, January 4), I agree with the preference for full-size spare wheels to be provided in all vehicles.

I have a colleague who hates the run-flat tyres provided on his Mini Cooper S and almost fears going out in the car because of the possibility of getting a puncture.

There is no room in a Mini One for even a space saver wheel, let alone a full-size spare.

The simple answer to this problem is not to buy any car unless a full-size spare can be specified.

Also, I think it was totally irresponsible for Mr Chamberlain to drive at motorway speeds with a tyre knowingly punctured.

If Mr Chamberlain had caused an accident, I wonder if he would now be claiming damages from the breakdown service that recommended this irresponsible course of action.

ROB HEFFORD
Finance director, J H Hallam (Contracts)

Tax change would not favour all drivers

IN the letter ‘Drivers penalised by tax rule’ (Fleet News, January 4), your correspondent seems to be suggesting that the benefit-in-kind is calculated using the price paid for the vehicle by the employer.

As larger fleets enjoy bigger discounts this would mean that employees of smaller businesses pay more tax to drive the same vehicle. And is the benefit derived by the driver of having a nearly-new car so much less than a new vehicle with a much higher purchase price?

The letter writer was keen to gauge feeling over the issue. I would not be in favour of a change.

NEIL WARREN
Financial director, Uniter Group

Targeting drivers can save lives and money

WHILE we applaud Brake for raising the issue of the number of casualties that occur annually among the business driver community in ‘Driver toll for at-work drivers is made public’ (Fleet News, December 21), I fear that the problem may in fact be greater.

It has been accepted for several years by the Department for Transport and the road safety community that in the region of 20 work-related road fatalities occur every week, which is around 1,000 deaths a year. This was based on independent research for the Work Related Road Safety Task Group some years ago.

We now hear the figure has fallen to 850 per annum. In normal circumstances I would be rejoicing, along with other members of the Fleet Safety Association, on the basis that our many and varied interventions must be having a positive effect. Sadly I suspect that we have a case of under-reporting here.

Three months ago evidence was uncovered by Oxford University which showed casualties deriving from road traffic incidents were, according to the NHS, far higher than the corresponding DfT figures suggested. The reasons for this are many and varied and include that incidents are not reported to the police in the first place, and that some drivers report to hospital later as there were no apparent injuries at the time of the collision.

It is far too early to be complacent and say that we are starting to turn the tide.

But we will never know the scale of the problem for certain until such time as road casualties are required to be notifiable under the terms of the RIDDOR.

The Fleet Safety Association, in partnership with RoadSafe, will be doing everything it can this year to apply pressure for this to happen but also to persuade companies that they should be taking action anyway.

Targeted driver risk management can save money and lives – to use the vernacular, ‘it’s a no-brainer’.

STEVE JOHNSON
Press officer, Fleet Safety Association

Sat-nav can be a danger

I HAVE observed a marked increase in poor driving, particularly from people who are using satellite navigation with little or no regard to those around them.

Many of the drivers I have seen weaving between lanes without signalling, swerving across motorway lanes to make an exit at the last minute and even reversing on motorways to get back to a junction, are peering at navigation aids which are often attached to the windscreen in their direct line of sight.

I recently observed a driver whose vehicle was completely misted up and seemed to be using the little coloured screen as the sole method of determining her location on a fog-bound M56, near Manchester.

I wonder if fleet managers have any anecdotal evidence that indicates an increase in incidents where satellite navigation may have played a significant part in distracting drivers, and what powers fleet managers have to dictate to drivers safe procedures for using navigation aids on the road network.

RICHARD HOUGH
By email

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