The role of the fleet manager is changing and ACFO, the fleet operators’ organisation, needs to change with it.
“The demands on the fleet manager are changing and the role itself is changing,” said ACFO chairman, Julie Jenner, at the organisation’s conference and annual general meeting last week.
“Fleet managers are becoming business travel managers. ACFO needs to evolve to continue to meet the needs of its members.”
Ms Jenner highlighted rising fuel costs as one of the main issues facing fleets today and said that the organisation would continue to lobby government on issues that threaten the fleet industry.
In her statement, Ms Jenner acknowledged the efforts of the “Choose ESC” campaign to get electronic stability control fitted as standard to as many fleet vehicles as possible.
She also praised the ACFO members’ email news service and said she was pleased that the organisation had been able to avoid an increase in membership fees.
The conference was held at Volkswagen’s National Learning Centre in Milton Keynes.
Robin Woolcock, UK group managing director of Volkswagen, hinted that the Volkswagen group might even overtake GM and Ford with its UK sales in the next year or two.
He also set the stage for Volkswagen’s vehicle compliance manager, Peter Stokes, to look at the environmental challenge facing car manufacturers.
Mr Stokes said that of all the ways to cut the effect on the environment, Volkswagen has chosen the least costly, efficient measures to decrease CO2 over the largest number of vehicles.
Mo Desai, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers spoke about the consequences of the 2008 Budget and warned of the potential impact of reductions in capital allowances.
Lawyer Philip Somarakis, of Blake Lapthorn Tarlo Lyons, brought in police and HSE experts to discuss the grey fleet – privately-owned cars used for company business.
According to Mr Somarakis there are two million drivers in the UK with nine points on their licence and the average age of a grey fleet car is more than six years.
Chief Inspector Howard Marr from Hampshire Police told delegates that checking employee’s driving licences once a year is not enough and that “dip sampling” throughout the year using DVLA information was essential to root-out ineligible drivers.
Perhaps the most entertaining presentation of the day was given by Tim Marsh of Ryder Marsh (Safety) Ltd.
Mr Marsh used optical illusions and audience participation to illustrate his points about “The Psychology of Driver Safety”.
He demonstrated a risk triangle with 300 unsafe acts at the bottom, leading to a middle layer of 30 near misses and a top layer of one crash.
“Reduce the number of unsafe acts at the bottom and you’ll see a massive effect on the layers above,” he said.
Mr Marsh also asked which delegates thought bungee-jumping sounded like an exciting thing to do.
He then told those who did that they were twice as likely to die in a road traffic accident as a result of their attitude.
Look out for articles by Tim Marsh in future issues of Fleet News.