23/11/10

By Claire West

As the roads become more treacherous during the winter months, new research from Thrifty Car and Van Rental shows that businesses are failing to implement even basic fleet management practices, which could make a massive difference to company car drivers’ safety.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of businesses don’t encourage staff to regularly carry out maintenance checks on their company car such as tyre pressures, and oil and water levels with less than a quarter (23%) having a system in place to ensure regular checks occur. A further quarter (23%) place the onus to remember on the driver, declaring they highlight the responsibility when the car is first given and then leave them to it, which could be grounds for breaking Duty of Care obligations. Nearly one in five (18%) of businesses admit they don’t even think about providing guidance on maintenance checks.

Road accident figures show casualties soar in the winter months, with November having the highest number of serious accidents on Britain's roads, closely followed by December1 and even the most experienced of drivers can be caught out. Yet companies are failing to follow even basic safety policies. A company car handbook is a legal requirement but only 36% of businesses issue one. Furthermore, less than a third (30%) provide hands free kits for mobile phones, despite admitting that 39% of company car drivers talk on the phone while on the move. In addition, only 13% send company car drivers on an advanced driving course, which have been shown to lead to a 20% improvement in fuel consumption and an improved safety record.2

Although 63% of business owners acknowledge that company car drivers rarely drive responsibly with half (50%) believing their employees speed, only a quarter (27%)check an employee’s complete driving history. Also 98% think their staff eat or drink while driving — both major causes of distraction, but eight out of ten (79%) don’t check for previous motoring convictions, more than three quarters (78%) fail to look for points on the license, and shockingly 87% don’t ask about the number of accidents someone has had.

Grant Capel from Thrifty Car and Van Rental explains:

“Fleet management can often be seen as a complex and time-consuming task, particularly for businesses that perhaps don’t have a dedicated person to deal with it. However, during the winter months it becomes especially important that regular maintenance checks are carried out and drivers are made fully aware of how to stay safe on the roads. At Thrifty, we ensure that all our vehicles are regularly serviced and maintained to provide customers with peace of mind. In addition, our flexible long term rental, Flexi-fleet, means businesses can benefit from the latest models for a safe and reliable drive.”

Thrifty Car and Van Rental operates nationwide. For further information visit www.thrifty.co.uk or call 01494 751500.