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Letters to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Avoiding diesel/petrol confusion

With reference to the Editor’s Blog (Audi A3 woes) it is a common mistake committed by quite a number of drivers who inadvertently put unleaded fuel into a diesel vehicle.

As a member of a busy fleet department, it is something I experience nearly every week with drivers from companies throughout the UK.

I have found that when a vehicle is not started, then it should be a matter of “drop and drain” the fuel tank and replace with the correct fuel. The fuel lines should require cleaning out but you won’t necessarily have to replace the filters as the fuel has not been pulled through the system.

If a vehicle has been started, the filters should be replaced as well as fuel lines being cleaned. This does, however, differ greatly where hybrid vehicles are concerned and can incur far more costs, not to mention, in some circumstances, resulting in lasting damage.

I have in the past advised drivers to purchase a small “diesel fuel only” sticker and place on the actual fuel filler flap. Although this may not totally eradicate the problem, I have found that it can, and in many cases does, reduce this error.

MICHAEL JONES Team leader, Platinum Fleet Management

Time to show respect for other drivers

I have been driving motorbikes and cars for some 40 years and I believe that the real problem on our roads today is lack of respect for our fellow road users.

On my daily commute down the A1 into north London I see drivers joining, leaving and lane changing without signalling.

Safe gaps are quickly filled by drivers in a hurry and no one stops for amber traffic lights.

Drivers hog the middle and outside lanes, scared to move over in case they won’t get out again. Cars creep out of side roads, impatient when not let in immediately. Drivers signal at the last minute and don’t even bother on roundabouts any more.

If we assume drivers are taught properly then at some point they choose to ignore the rules.

Bad driving and disrespect kill, not speed and alcohol. IAN CATMULL
Senior manager fleet operations, Black Horse Fleet Finance

Online testing has a relevant place

I was interested in the adverse comments raised about online driver assessment (Legal risk over online testing, Fleet News, June 28).

I have been involved with driver training as an instructor and training manager for nearly 30 years and, although not a fan of online assessment, I believe it is foolish to dismiss it.

Online assessment is useful but anyone who relies on a single tool is going to get caught out at some stage.

There are drivers in company fleets who can drive legally, and to a high standard, when they want to but choose to drive in a different manner when on their own.

They drive aggressively, break speed limits, jump lights, overtake recklessly and tailgate other drivers and know they are doing it, but either do not care or actively enjoy driving this way.

They are Jekyll and Hyde drivers and in my career I have come across plenty of them.

Someone who can fool an assessor can fool an online system as well – but the vast majority of drivers approach all types of assessment in a sensible and responsible way.

They may be nervous or try to put on a performance because they are doing their best, but they are not trying to fool the system and will learn from the exercise.

As for the Hydes, they can be spotted, as they always have been, by premature wear and tear on the vehicle and tyres, high fuel consumption, unexplained or hit-when-parked damage to bodywork. Any experienced fleet manager develops a feel for them and knows where to look.

If they get a good score on an online assessment, so what? It’s an effective diagnostic tool but if one test does not reveal the problem, then you try another.

EDWARD HANDLEY
By email

Employee audit is essential

Andy Leech of cfc Solutions is correct to question the usefulness of driver assessment tools as any form of defence in law (Legal risk over online testing, Fleet News, June 28).

David Faithful has made their weaknesses abundantly clear. His solution, which encompasses employees’ compliance to company policies, is exactly the right approach and is covering risk management as required in the law.

Your editorial comment was technically and legally misleading – the fact is that employee audit is what people need, which is why David and I have made it free to clients as part of the corporate solution.

JEREMY HAY
Managing director, Essential Risk Consultancy

HMRC’s poisoned chalice

It is interesting to note the emotion evoked by the current AMAP review, and the apparent antipathy toward HMRC for whom I have a great deal of sympathy.

They have been presented with a poisoned chalice by the Treasury and are merely asking us to take a sip from it.

It appears that they have been instructed to come up with a formula that will a) reduce carbon emissions, b) maintain revenue, c) demonstrate some contribution to drivers’ costs and d) attempt to simplify national insurance contribution treatment.

This is precisely what the introduction of AMAPs was intended to do when it replaced the old AMR system in 2002.

Their problem, and the reason they are asking for help, is that they have little information relating to the amounts of AMAPs paid or the cars they relate to.

They have to perform the exercise, so let’s help them and avoid any uninformed results.

Having just analysed two mixed fleets, I can honestly say that the CO2 proposals would not cause me concern.

Whether any change proves to be worthwhile remains to be seen, and there is a good case for leaving AMAP levels alone and perhaps focussing on other elements of fleet management such as fuel policy.

JIM SALKELD
Chief executive, Toomey Optica

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