Fleet News

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Letters to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Bad attitudes are deeply ingrained

I read with interest your front-page lead about the failure of small fleets to learn the lesson of the Michael Eyres fatality “Smaller fleets failing to heed Eyres lesson,” (Fleet News, August 30).

We have been working with small fleets for many years and can underline the findings of the research – the vast majority of companies running even dozens of cars and vans do not believe that their fleets represent a genuine duty of care risk.

The underlying obstacles here are difficult to overcome because attitudes are deeply ingrained. In our experience, those running smaller fleets have simply not made the mental shift that most larger fleets have made in recent years where they see the cars and vans they run as places of work.

There have been some accusations about scaremongering regarding the duty-of-care issue in these pages in recent weeks but the bottom line is that a small business could, in the event of an accident, face costs that could drive it out of business and possibly put managers in jail in addition to the tragedy of any injuries sustained by its drivers or other road users.

As an industry we will be neglecting our responsibilities if we do not work hard to make small businesses aware of these risks. This is not a matter of the industry using fear to promote risk management services to small fleets but bringing their attention to a genuinely important issue that could save lives.

Perhaps the best route we can take would be to encourage them to network with more experienced colleagues who can guide them through the processes and legislation that now affect all fleets.

In this way, we can sidestep the issue of self-interest while still helping those who drive within small fleets to enjoy the same kind of duty of care protection that the rest of us now expect.

ANDY LEECH
Business leader, cfc solutions

Why flout the smoking law on purpose?

I note a letter in your publication from an anonymous writer “sticker solution” (Fleet News, September 6), regarding a no-smoking sticker in his van.

He says he works alone as a service engineer and never carries business passengers, so why should he display a sticker?

This is a problem that I’ve encountered while running a fleet of service engineers’ vans.

The answer we’ve given to our engineers is that firstly, we don’t allow smoking in any company vehicle, so the law is really only reinforcing current company policy and secondly, our service engineers do occasionally carry passengers, for example apprentices, other engineers on two-man jobs, managers who spend a day shadowing their staff, etc.

I can’t believe the driver concerned does not ever carry a passenger – but more to the point, his sticker is not in plain view and this carries a fine.

Why deliberately flout the law just to prove a point?

ALISON HARDING
Fleet administrator, BBT Thermotechnology UK

Letter raised points we must all consider

I am writing in response to the letter “30mph limit on all roads will save oil” (Fleet News, August 30).

While Glen Lowcock’s viewpoint is pretty radical, his letter should challenge us all to consider if we are doing enough to reduce the use of oil, petrol, diesel and the level of emissions our fleets are producing.

In many cases, the harsh reality as to why fleet operators find it difficult to commit to green policies is because it can often be very expensive, or restrictive to their business success, to do so.

We live in a competitive world and if a company decides to convert its fleet to LPG, limit the amount of mileage each driver covers, or forces drivers to have smaller cars, these all have a commercial impact.

It’s not something company directors readily admit to but saving the planet in the long-term does not always make short-term commercial sense, which is why the sentiment is often there but not the financial ability to commit to change.

However, with the advent of online driver training and assessment for fleet operators, we have an opportunity to make a tangible impact on the environment as well as a positive commercial impact.

I have worked in the fleet driver training sector for 20 years, and a key resistance of companies committing to a programme of driver risk assessments and training was always that it was seen as a significant investment, and it removed people from their day-to-day activities.

To assess and train online is not only far less expensive, it also has significant environmental and commercial benefits, making this a genuine case of companies being able to create a positive commercial impact on their business and do their bit for our planet.

GRAHAM HURDLE
Managing director, E-Training World

Let’s have track instead of road

Here’s an alternative to Glen Lowcocks’ suggestion “30mph limit on all roads will save oil” (Fleet News, August 30).

How about converting one lane of all major motorways to a high speed ‘maglev’ type track, with automatic train bogies where vehicles are driven on, and off, at purpose-built stations.

These could be in the UK’s major cities with no intermediate stops and speeds could be in line with French TGV trains. This would allow drivers to use their mobiles, have a snack while travelling, save fuel, reduce emissions and maximise the use of the highways.

Motorway driving is now almost like being in a convoy at times – think of the reduction in stress levels.

MALCOLM ANDREWS
Director, Leavesley Containers

Next: how to nail jelly to the ceiling!

So, those zany funsters, the Liberal Democrats, are sure that the petrol engine can be ditched.

Their spokesman, Chris Huhne, puts forward all sorts of alternative fuels which will speed the demise of the petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, he hopes.

Next week they will probably be demonstrating how to nail jelly to the ceiling and how to plait fog.

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