The number of breakdowns caused by fleet driver error is falling, but the severity of these avoidable faults is causing longer periods of downtime, according to RAC’s latest Vehicle Fault Analysis data.
Driver-induced faults prompted almost 100,000 call outs, with figures indicating that fleet drivers caused at least 14,818 working days of downtime - or around 40 years - for the top five fleet driver induced faults in 2009.
Although pre-empting or deterring driver faults is becoming more common in fleet vehicles, simple issues such as a driver’s lack of familiarity with the vehicle, or a failure to conduct basic maintenance checks, are causing expensive and time-consuming repair bills.
Sean Connolly, repair improvement manager at RAC, said: “Despite fleets fitting clever technology such as tyre pressure and battery management monitoring systems and electrical cut-off devices, our data on fleet customer call-outs shows 30 per cent of all fleet breakdowns are due to potentially avoidable faults.
“This results in fleet downtime, as well as extra costs for replacement or hire cars, missed appointments and, potentially, business interruption. There can be no doubt that the financial impact of losing fleet vehicles to businesses can be significant.”
The top three reasons for a call-out are wheel-related, including punctures, general tyre faults and lack of replacement tyres. This is followed by misfuelling, running out of petrol or diesel, and flat batteries caused by internal or external lights being left on.
Fleet managers should consider the benefits of fuel efficiency gained by no spare wheel against the increased downtime that not providing a spare could cause.
Connolly said: “Having no spare wheel can turn a breakdown we can repair quickly at the roadside into a much longer resolution for the driver. Last year we attended more than 8,000 call-outs where there was no spare wheel. If the vehicle has to be towed to a tyre retailer or garage, it will generally take up to half a day to get the vehicle back on the road with a new tyre.
“Misfuelling is the next biggest fault category with over 8,000 misfuels amongst fleet drivers in 2009. This isn’t just costing fleet drivers the price of a drain and a lost tank of petrol or diesel - it is having a serious impact on lost time as well.”
Connolly added: “Familiarity with the car, clear labelling and fuel contamination prevention devices such as RAC’s FuelSure will all help reduce downtime. Running out of fuel is another easily preventable fault, yet RAC attended almost 9,000 incidents in 2009.
“These are avoidable faults which cost fleets time and money, and fleet managers need to ask themselves how much of these costs are avoidable. A familiarity with the car and basic maintenance checks will go a long way to keeping fleets running smoothly and efficiently.”