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Letters to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Accident data needs a rethink

Your excellent article “At-work crashes under-reported” (Fleet News, November 15) refers to a very important issue for road safety around the world.

Having been heavily involved in reviewing Stats19 whilst leading research projects at the University of Huddersfield, at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, Queensland, and in my current role, I wanted to make a few comments.

The 30% of road fatalities figure quoted for at-work collisions was only an estimate.

It was never based on actual data.

At that time, the only jurisdiction around the world to have actual data was Queensland where from 1998-2002, 24% of fatal and 17% of hospitalisation road collisions were recorded as involving a work driver.

This was commonly seen as an under-representation, as it did not include all the at-work cars.

As one of many lobbying for ‘Purpose of Journey’ to be added into Stats19, we are delighted that it has been included since January 2005. <> Analysis of the first year of data showed that trucks and buses involved in at-work road collisions were reported fairly well, but other at-work vehicles such as cars and vans were hardly reported at all.

In our own research on Purpose of Journey, based on a survey of more than 1,000 drivers – more than half of all journeys involved people driving to or for work.

Department for Transport data shows clearly that for most road fatalities (almost 78%) the police did not record the purpose of journey and that for most vehicle types (almost 73%) the purpose of journey was also not recorded.

This is highly unacceptable and reflects badly on both the police collecting the data and the DfT in terms of the level of guidance and training they provide.

We believe the police (both nationally and at the “Tarmac-face”) need to be better trained in the importance of the information and how to report it effectively.

A similar data issue that requires a rethink is the inclusion of on-road at-work incidents in the Health and Safety Executive’s Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR) reporting process.

This would allow the HSE to obtain a much better picture about the full extent of at-work fatalities and injuries and would allow resources to be targeted much more effectively at the biggest at-work risk in the UK.

DR WILL MURRAY
Research director, Inter-active Driving Systems
Trustee, Brake Visiting Research Fellow, CARRS-Q

‘Unbelievable’ expenses must be probed

Roddy Graham’s comment in the article “MP criticised over unbelievable expenses claim” (Fleet News Online search words: MP, expenses) is very pertinent to the whole issue of road accidents due to tiredness.

This is something the Government is rightfully concerned about.

Environmental issues also come into play and you could even be forgiven for thinking that there are dual standards being exhibited.

There is also the questionable use of public funds. Perhaps the public accounts committee should be looking at some of the “claims” made for expenses.

Sadly, I suspect they will not as it would open a large can of worms. Roll on road pricing.

CHRIS ELDRED
European regional manager, Technology Services – UK Office

This is just political Blarney

So the Government is to spend £50 million on trying to get Britain’s van fleet operators to drive vehicles that emit lower amounts of carbon dioxide (Fleet News Online search words: Government, CO2).

This is nothing more than political blarney that will have absolutely no effect on the levels of CO2 emitted in the UK and is money wasted.

This is how committed our Government is to green van issues – at present, van manufacturers have no legal obligation to produce either fuel economy or CO2 emissions figures for vans.

So does a Ford Transit emit more CO2 than a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter? I haven’t got a clue and neither has anyone else.

From January 1 2008 all manufacturers will be required to produce fuel economy and CO2 figures but – amazingly – there is STILL no legal requirement for them to make these figures available to the public.

So far, of the big manufacturers only Citroën and Volkswagen have told me they intend to publish them.

Why the Government has decided we should be kept in the dark is a mystery and how on earth can van fleet operators choose more energy-efficient vehicles when they don’t have these basic facts?

The Government should require mpg and CO2 figures to be made public, as is the case with cars.

It would have a positive impact on the environment and wouldn’t cost the taxpayer anything.

TREVOR GELKEN
Editor, Fleet Van

Confusion reigns over mobile message

The helpline page has an answer to a query about using mobile phones while driving, and quite rightly states “The police and RoSPA provide evidence that reactions are up to 40% slower when using a mobile phone, whether hand-held or wireless.

All organisations involved with safety advise not to use them while driving” Fleet News, November 15.

However, in the same issue you offer as a prize a Bluetooth car kit with the statement “ensures a clear conversation over loud driving sounds”.

It seems that you are preaching the road safety gospel with one hand but encouraging non-safe driving with the other.

Is it any wonder most fleet drivers are confused when those of us who are supposed to be promoting the safe driving message can’t even do joined up thinking?

JOHN CARTER
Sandvik

I have been reading this week’s copy of Fleet News and as always it is very interesting (Fleet News, November 15), especially the helpline question regarding mobile phone use.

The answer was especially informative – the bottom line being do not use mobile phones, hand-held or hands-free and have all calls diverted to voice mail, or another number.

Then I turned to page 47 – the News Quiz – win a Bluetooth car kit.

One person saying do not use this sort of thing, and the competition saying use me.

What does one do?

S.A.COTTER
Fine Tubes

  • Ed: Fleet News is primarily a medium for news and views from others. If someone calls for a ban on all phone use while driving, we publish their views without necessarily endorsing them.

    The use of a legal hands-free kit is better than using a hand-held illegally. Fleet News would campaign for tougher action on that.

    Poll

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