Fewer fleet cars were ordered with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) than retail cars during the first half of 2009, despite a concerted campaign aimed at encouraging fleet managers to demand that all their cars have the safety technology be fitted.
In the first six months of last year, just 55% of new fleet cars had ESC fitted compared to 59% of all new retail cars sold.
Bosch in conjunction with ACFO ran a campaign in 2008 urging fleet managers to insist all their vehicles come with ESC as standard.
The BVRLA, whose members supply many of these vehicles, also came out in support of the call.
“I would urge all fleet operators to take this simple step: if you are thinking of renewing your fleet make sure it has ESC,” said David Ward, director general of the FIA Foundation and president of the ChooseESC Campaign, at the time.
But the message appears to have failed to get through although Bosch, which developed ESC, told Fleet News it is confident that fleets will be leading the way when full year figures are released in July.
“I am convinced that they will be higher than the national average when we have a picture for the full year,” said David Fulker, head of UK marketing for Bosch Chassis Systems Control.
“Fleets are leading the way where the uptake of this technology is concerned; it’s just its availability in the small car sector which has resulted in the lower figure.
"However, with several new cars in this sector now equipped with ESC as standard that is set to change.”
The benefits for fleets choosing the road safety technology are threefold, claims Fulker.
“There are the proven road safety benefits; the residual value case where fleets will be selling vehicles into a world where all new cars will be required by law to have the technology fitted; and the affect the technology can have in cutting collision rates,” he said.
Research from the Department for Transport suggests ESC-equipped vehicles are 25% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those with the technology.
EU rules mean from November 2011, all new cars and vans must have ESC as an option, with the safety system being compulsory in all new vehicles from November 2014.
“I am aware that an increasing number of fleets are stipulating that ESC should be fitted as standard,” said ACFO chairman Julie Jenner.
“And a number of ACFO members, including Napp Pharmaceuticals, have that mandate in their policies.”
Jill Grimes, fleet co-ordinator at Napp Pharmaceuticals, said: “What price can you put on a life? If just one life is saved as a result of the company making ESC on all new vehicles compulsory then the right decision has been made.”