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Letter to Fleet News' editor Martyn Moore.

He cannot be serious

The letter “Hidden danger of mobile calls” (Fleet News, December 20) from Len Benson is nonsense.

Does he seriously think that anyone taking a call in a tight situation on a mobile hands-free kit would allow a caller to continue yelling “hello, hello, are you still there, can you hear me?” without telling the caller to “shut up, I’m in a tight spot and need to concentrate”, or disconnecting the caller by switching off his/her phone? Wouldn’t you just ignore the phone?

Does he use satellite navigation?

I don’t, but I assume that since these devices have a screen they are programmed to display a map which the driver would look at. Is this not more dangerous than talking to someone on the phone?

Should they, too, be banned?

Last week I had a call from someone who challenged me to spend two hours of my time in which he would convince me that I am wrong about the ability of drivers who use hands-free mobile phone kits.

He was an advanced driving instructor and said consider-able research has proved that using any sort of mobile phone, hands-free or not, in the car is dangerous.

I agree – hand-held phones are dangerous and I am as annoyed as most people about the idiots who ignore the current law.

I may or may not go through with the challenge since it is obvious to me that the real reason for accidents is due to driver inexperience or incompetence.

Fred Macdonald, fleet manager, Wilson Electrical Distributors

Childish drivers causing concern

The onus placed on companies is now so great that company car drivers are taking less personal responsibility for their own safety and their vehicles.

We have reached the stage where company car drivers are starting to be mollycoddled like children.

So much is done for them and so much responsibility is seen as being the company’s, that many do very little to ensure they are creating a safe environment while on the road.

We see high numbers of drivers who have not had eyesight tests, know how many alcoholic drinks would mean they are over the limit the morning after, a number that do not conduct regular vehicle safety checks and many who sit back and wait to be sent their tax disc by their fleet manager without giving a second thought as to whether the car is taxed or not until it arrives.

Companies need to adopt a duty of care towards their employees.

However, there should be a responsibility for employees to also show a duty of care towards their employers, rather than it being one-way traffic from the company to its staff.

We are moving towards a situation which is grossly unfair on the employer, and will lead to drivers becoming increasingly nonchalant about their own responsibilities.

For company directors to potentially face prison when the driver of the car could be back on the road with what is effectively just a very strong ticking off seems to be shifting responsibility far too far away from the true culprit.

The continuous squeeze being put on companies will reach a point where it no longer has the desired impact on achieving safer conditions for their drivers and other road users, but instead creates a lazy culture that causes drivers to become an even greater danger than before, and companies writing tighter and tighter policies and handbooks to protect themselves from prosecution.

Graham Hurdle, managing director, E-Training World

Modern policy increases cost of repairs

With reference to the article “Little protection against big bills” (Fleet News, December 20), why are cars not fitted with chrome or metal bumpers as they were up to the 1970s?

I started work in a garage in 1959 and can remember damaged bumpers being banged into shape again. Surely this would be better than the plastic bumper which damages easily?

Repairing cars is costing a fortune by always fitting new parts. A metal bumper would save damage to the engine and the chassis.

In this day and age when we are trying to save the planet, any sort of machinery should be repaired where possible.

Fitting new parts all the time is not always the answer.

S A COTTER, PURCHASING DEPARTMENT, FINE-TUBE

Care needed in fleet van purchases

The article “Fleets advised to select the right vehicle for the job” (Fleet News, November 29) has highlighted a point that should be stressed to all fleet managers.

Too many fleets buy a particular van because it is the cheapest, or has the best salesperson, or is the one they’ve always bought. This is particularly prevalent if the fleet has cars and vans, where often the latter are an afterthought.

Fleet managers should look at what they need their vans to do. Driver input is vital. They often know better than the fleet manager what role commercial vehicles play.

Ensuring your vehicles can cope with everything you need them to do is central, especially if your requirements are likely to change.

Using daily rental to supplement your core fleet can also often help with flexibility, especially if you have seasonal requirements.

Seemingly insignificant details, from the height of the van loading facilities to the shelving and specialist equipment required inside the vehicle, need to be understood and taken into account.

Choosing the wrong van will result in higher costs at best and safety and legal issues at worst.

The key is to understand that vans are not like cars. They are not perks, but are there solely to do a job.

Making a job easier and more cost-effective is surely common sense.

STEVE CRAWSHAW, LCV MANAGER, LEASEPLAN UK

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