The number of fleet vehicles being driven with illegal faults - such as defective lights and tyres - has more than doubled in a year, according to estimates from RAC. And aside from breaking the law regarding vehicle roadworthiness, negligence about faults increases the risk of companies coming into contact with Corporate Manslaughter legislation.
Based on RAC’s Duty of Care Inspection checks of fleet vehicles in Q1 2011, 36% failed for tyre maintenance and 20% for faulty lights – a more than two-fold and four-fold increase on respective failure rates in 2010.
And although not an illegal fault, more than 37% of vehicles checked failed their inspection for under the bonnet fluid levels, an increase of 26% on last year. This may further deteriorate without maintenance, resulting in expensive repair bills following complete failure of a main vehicle component.
Notable failure rates for other inspection criteria were:
Vehicle service history: 48%
External damage: 10%
Abnormal noises: 2.5%
Ron Richards, senior partnership manager at RAC, says: “It always amazes me that of the thousands of fleet vehicles out on the road daily under the responsibility of particular individuals, those people are not checking their own vehicle on a regular basis and are rendering them illegal on the road.
“It’s true that vehicles today are more reliable than they’ve ever been, but this has had the unfortunate side-effect of people being less attentive to the maintenance duties that come with running a car or van.”
Richards added: “It could also be said that there’s a lack of communication in companies between managers responsible for fleet vehicles and their drivers, so the internal checks and balances are insufficient.”
“The current economic climate may mean that companies are reluctant to pay for their vehicles to be checked professionally and regularly, but this leaves them exposed to potential Corporate Manslaughter charges if the lack of maintenance on a car or van leads to a death on the road.”