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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Employer can be prosecuted

I’M writing in response to the Own Vehicles Helpline (Fleet News, April 12).

It did not, in my opinion, answer the question accurately. The question was basically ‘What does the use, cause, permit rule mean and does it affect the employer if an employee is using his/her own vehicle?’

Firstly, there is no law entitled ‘use, cause or permit’. The terms are a rule applied within road traffic law – most commonly – in relation to construction and use offences on vehicles.

The terms ‘duty of care’ and ‘fit for purpose’ are only referred to under health and safety legislation – they are not mentioned anywhere in the Road Traffic Act. Similarly, use, cause or permit is not referred to under health and safety legislation. In road traffic law, the term ‘unfit for purpose’ would read ‘unsuitable use’.I agree they are all linked in terms of the principles of safe vehicle use.

In response to the questioner, I would advise as follows:

In effect, the answer is yes. In law, the company or organisation on whose business the driver is engaged when a construction-and-use offence is identified may be guilty of an offence, depending on the precise circumstances.

The law would certainly take the view that the vehicle was being used in an unroadworthy condition by the company, or that the company was causing the vehicle to be used in an unroadworthy condition – depending upon the circumstances.

Permitting the vehicle to be used could also be considered if, for example, it was shown that the company had not taken reasonable steps to ensure the vehicle was suitable for the type of use on which it was engaged when the offence as committed.

STUART GEMMELL
Motor fleet risk manager, Driving Services UK

Deal with mileage claims sensitively

THE Mileage Claims Helpline (Fleet News, April 12) echoed the recent research by Travelodge that showed British workers are cheating their employers out of £1 billion a year through their expenses claims.

Your original letter clearly demonstrates that false business mileage claims are an increasing and expensive problem.

It was interesting to see in the response that Emmanuel Lewis recommended using a site such as Multimap to verify mileage figures. While these sites will provide accurate mileages, they require a significant effort from the driver, needing them to record trip details once for the route calculation, then again for their expense claim.

Another approach is an online routing and mileage verification service that generates the best route for a particular journey and then returns an accurate mileage.

As Emmanuel Lewis notes, this issue does need managing sensitively and, by avoiding a black- box spy-in-the-cab approach, a more positive relationship is also maintained with the workforce.

ASHLEY SOWERBY
Chevin Fleet Solutions

Figures are a step in the right direction

WITH reference to the article ‘Own up call on van mpgs’ (Fleet News, April 19) the publication of fuel consumption figures based on a standard test is a step in the right direction.

However, the more complex question is that of fuel consumption and the subsequent environmental performance of a fleet.

For the past three years we – Centrica, owners of British Gas – have monitored the fuel efficiency of our commercial vehicles.

This has given us an established benchmark to monitor the benefits of our driver development programmes, plus all future vehicle replacements – as they now only purchase the most fuel efficient and those restricted to 70mph.

We are reviewing the current specification of our central heating vehicles and have a number of demonstrators which are monitored by our environmental supplier, Fuelmasteronline, to determine which is the most fuel efficient.

Each vehicle has the current internal racking systems and roof ladder equipment, plus current van stock, so all mpg and CO2 emissions analysis is consistent with the existing vehicle fleet.

Fuelmasteronline provides accurate fuel consumption and environmental performance information which has resulted in changes to vehicle specification, removal of under-performing models from purchasing lists and the evaluation of fuel saving interventions, all of which reduce operational costs and environmental impact.

This is done with data generated by each individual vehicle, which is captured and evaluated according to the customer’s requirements.

To paraphrase the old statement, ‘you cannot manage that which you do not monitor’, the approach should be to monitor that which is of most importance, which in this case is how efficient the vehicles in your particular types of operation are when driven by your own employees.

Centrica has proved you don’t need to wait for manufacturers to publish fuel economy figures, which in any case may not reflect your operation.

  • For further information visit www.2FMO.com or e-mail admin@2fmo.com.

    JON YORK
    Fleet operations manager, Centrica

    Consider safety before increasing speed limits

    IN response to Terry Hudson’s letter ‘Britain’s speed limits are set too low’ (Fleet News, April 19), it is wrong to justify increasing the speed limit because more than one million drivers have nine points or more on their licences.

    The Department for Transport’s most recent published figures suggest that 58% of cars exceed the 30mph built-up area speed limit. A 30mph crash will kill 50% of pedestrians on impact and a 40mph crash will increase this rate to 85%. If, however, a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 20mph they will have a 95% chance of survival.

    I would much rather justify the speed limits by these statistics rather than the points that drivers have on their licences.

    GREG GILMOUR
    Fleet administrator, Henderson Group

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