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Hidden cost of foreign drivers

Following on from your article concerning increasing accidents involving overseas drivers – “More crashes caused by overseas drivers” (Fleet News, November 22) – the issue is not about employing foreign drivers and being unable to check their licence details.

It is more about being able to claim the cost of accident damage from trucks involved in accidents on our roads.

Our fleet has had a number of accidents involving foreign trucks and in each case we have been unable to claim the cost of repairs against the foreign third party.

It has proved impossible to trace an insurer despite having details of the driver, the company and the registration number of the vehicle.

In each case the foreign driver has admitted liability.

Your article states that foreign drivers were responsible for 18,000 crashes in the UK in 2006.

I wonder how much UK fleets had to stump up in un-insured losses.

John Stack, group fleet and transport manager, Michelin

P11d liability and hands-free phone kits

Fred MacDonald’s answer to the helpline question “Is the cost of a hands-free phone kit likely to be taxed?” (Fleet News, November 22) was unfortunately incomplete.

While it is true that a retro-fitted kit has no P11d liability, the value of one that is factory fitted at the time a car is built is included in the taxable value of the car.

It therefore does impact the amount of tax paid by the driver.

Given that factory fitted hands-free options are often valued at more than £1,000 by car manufacturers, the increase in tax payable will not be insignificant.

I feel this important point should have been clarified in the reply.

Lynn Fortin, director, Fortin Services

Fleet managers can give their drivers eye tests

In response to the helpline from Jo Pearce on eyesight testing “Risk Management” (Fleet News, November 29) I would add that the onus is still very much on the driver to ensure that he or she has correct vision before driving a vehicle.

There is no legal requirement for companies to provide free eye tests to their drivers, although some do.

The most effective way I have found of ensuring that staff eyesight conforms to the legal requirement is for the manager, carrying out the monthly vehicle inspections, to simply ask the driver to read a numberplate from about 20 metres away.

If they are unable to, then ask them to get their eyes tested immediately and stop them driving until they do.

Most opticians offer walk-in eye tests so the driver will only be off the road for a couple of hours, but it could save their life.

Nicholas Purkis, European risk and insurance manager, Hertz Europe

Let’s target idiot mobile phone users

I read Phill Troman’s article in this week’s Fleet News indicating that a total ban on mobiles in vehicles, even with a professionally fitted fixed mobile hands-free kit, was still a possibility – “Total phone ban still a possibility” (FNO search phrase: Fitzpatrick).

Apparently the Transport Research Laboratory has performed experiments that show using a hands-free kit is more dangerous than drink-driving.

I think the people who conducted these tests must have had few too many themselves. Taking a call on fixed mobile kit, such as the one I use, where I can accept a call by pushing any key on the pad at the same time cutting out the input from my car radio, can be no more dangerous than talking to someone next to me or even in the back seat.

Let us concentrate on getting the idiots like white van man, mums taking their kids to school and the articulated truck drivers that we all come across regularly using mobile phones without proper kits to stop doing so.

Then look at the resulting accident rate to make a sensible decision based on real facts, not assumptions or predictions.

Fred Macdonald, fleet manager, Wilson Electrical Distributors

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