Business drivers see speeding as a lesser crime than their private motoring counterparts, according to a new study.
The RAC Report on Motoring reveals that nearly nine in ten (87%) company car drivers admit to speeding on motorways, compared with less than two-thirds (61%) of private motorists.
Business drivers are also more likely to favour no penalty for minor speeding offences – 38% of company car drivers are against speeding fines, versus 29% of private motorists.
In addition, nearly three-quarters of company car drivers support different speed limits on similar classes of roads.
The findings are a blow for fleets that have been making substantial investment in risk assessment, training and coaching and suggests a growing need for companies to monitor their drivers using, for example, telematics.
A telematics trial on the Bauer fleet, which ended last year, revealed that 80% of the 15 drivers taking part regularly exceeded the speed limit.
In addition to safety concerns, this also raised cost issues: the worst speeding culprit also achieved the worst fuel efficiency at 43mpg, while the driver who registered the fewest speeding violations had the best efficiency, at 62mpg. Both drivers were in the same make and model of car.
The RAC’s annual report into UK motoring behaviour also reveals company car drivers’ frustrations at travel delays.
More than 70% of respondents said congestion is getting worse while almost three-quarters (73%) want targeted improvements to local roads to relieve bottlenecks. One-third supports more toll roads to ease rising congestion.
David Bizley, RAC technical director, said: “Company car drivers are under huge pressure to complete each journey as quickly and efficiently as possible, so the importance of maintaining roads to a high standard and speed restrictions are all key issues for those who drive for business.
“However, it is worrying that such a high number of company car drivers are breaking speed limits and view this as somehow less serious than other motoring offences. Good business must not come at the expense of road safety.”
He added: “Helping business to keep moving safely is why we welcome the Government consultation on raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph.
“However, it is important that the limit is raised only on those stretches of motorway where it is appropriate to do so – not all motorways are sufficiently modern or well-designed to handle higher speeds at present.”
Company car drivers are showing a fundamental lack of understanding about the social impact of speeding and the increasing likelihood of fatalities and serious injuries.
This, and a perceived lack of police presence, has engendered a lax attitude to speeding that endangers both themselves and other drivers around them.
There is a strong argument for renewed campaigning on the dangers of speeding as the problem is clearly not confined to the stereotypical ‘young male driver’.
However, unlike previous years, the Government chose not to run a major road safety campaign from May 2010 to Christmas 2011 – when drink driving adverts ran.
The Department for Transport spent just £2.34m on road safety campaigns in 2010/11, compared to £18.6m in 2009/10.
As a result, the RAC is calling on Government to reintroduce high-profile campaigns on the dangers of speeding, mobile phone use and drink/drug-driving.
It also wants Government to consider raising the priority of roads policing in recognition that the current approach to enforcement is encouraging poor and anti-social driving behaviour.