Fleets should prioritise driver safety this winter
14 December 2011
While the UK has enjoyed a milder start to winter in 2011 than in recent years, bad weather will still be a key issue over the coming months, particularly for fleets, says the Fleet Safety Forum.
Road risk message fails to resonate with drivers
13 December 2011
Four out of five company car and van drivers are putting their safety at risk and damaging their employer’s bottom line by breaking speed limits.
Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show that 1,857 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2010, with estimates suggesting a third died while driving for work. However, a recent survey from ALD Automotive of more than 700 at-work drivers reveals that 85.5% continue to ignore crucial road safety messages. Only 14.5% said they never drive above the legal speed limit, while 72.5% said they occasionally would drive at excessive speeds and 13% admitted to breaking the law on a regular basis. The survey also suggests that speeding is more likely to occur on the motorway, with 79.5% of respondents admitting that is where the temptation is greatest, as opposed to 6% on dual carriageways, 2% on country roads and 1.7% in urban areas.
The Government has proposed raising the motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph, claiming the increase would be good for business (Fleet News, October 13). Former transport secretary Philip Hammond said the consultation would begin this year, but the DFT told Fleet News that it would now get underway in the next few months. It is expected it would take approximately 12 weeks to complete and if given the go-ahead it would be implemented in 2013. However, driving at 80mph could use up to 20% more fuel than at 70mph, which could have serious consequences for company fuel bills, notwithstanding the obvious road safety implications.
Richard Hill, managing director of Peak Performance, said: “I think there’s a greater need for driver education.” Hill recognises the fuel consumption argument, but says this isn’t a consideration for most company car drivers. “Unfortunately it’s a case of how can I get from A to B as quickly as possible and that’s why we need to educate the driver about all the things that can be gained through safe and fuel-efficient driving,” he said.
The survey also found that 13% of drivers are still flouting the ban on the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving. These findings come in the wake of another recent survey of nearly 500 company car drivers, which revealed 47% of respondents were ‘sometimes’ filling up with fuel at motorway services – normally the most expensive – and 2% were regular visitors.
Hill concludes that fleet managers need to employ “a clear and positive approach” to educating their drivers to achieve the maximum impact. He said: “Corporates need to demonstrate the commercial benefits and personal benefits. We are dealing with human beings – when we know there’s something in it for us, we are more likely to engage.”
Grace period for London Low Emission Zone
13 December 2011
Vehicles being operated in the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) without meeting its emission standards will not be penalised for a first offence, Transport for London has said. Instead of receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) on the first occasion they are seen, the registered keeper of a non-compliant vehicle will get a warning letter stating that they have 28 days in which to become compliant. The vehicle can be driven in the zone during this grace period.
SMMT publishes 'towing and the law' guide
13 December 2011
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has launched the sixth edition of Towing and the Law Guide that helps businesses and individuals to stay on the right side of the law when towing anything weighing up to 3.5 tonnes.
Available since the late 1950s, the regularly updated publication has sold more than 300,000 copies in the last 10 years alone, catering for those towing anything from a trailer or caravan to a horse box or boat.
“SMMT’s Towing and the Law publication has a proven track record of success with hundreds of thousands of people using it to stay legal in their business and leisure towing activities,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “The SMMT website offers a host of facts, figures, advice and guidance on topics ranging from towing to electric vehicles, providing detailed industry knowledge to motorists and businesses across the UK.”
The booklet includes a new, easy to follow guide to ensure drivers hold the correct licences and a revised presentation of the information about tachograph use. In addition to these updated sections, the new 36-page booklet covers crucial ‘need to know’ subjects from towing in Europe and the various types of coupling, to essential safety points such as the use of breakaway cables and correct tyre pressures.
Only available in hard copy, the sixth edition costs just £6 plus postage and packing (£3.50 for SMMT members).
ACFO calls for axing of 3% diesel BIK surcharge
06 December 2011
ACFO has called for the ‘totally unjustified’ 3% diesel company car benefit-in-kind tax surcharge to be scrapped in discussions with Government officials.
The request came during a recent face-to-face meeting with officials from HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and was accompanied with a renewed call for five years advance notice of future company car benefit-in-kind tax rates. Since April 2002, company car benefit-in-kind tax has been based on a car’s list price and official CO2 emission figure. However, a 3% supplement up to the maximum charge of 35% has been levied on diesel cars, although it was waived for models first registered before the end of 2005 that met the European Commission Euro 4 standard.
Now ACFO says the 3% surcharge should be abolished for a number of reasons including:
• The additional tax was levied because in 2002 diesel cars were regarded as significant polluters. However, today’s models have CO2 emissions below those of their petrol-engined equivalents.
• The fuel efficiency of some of today’s petrol-engined models have improved significantly and, coupled with the price premium of diesel cars over petrol equivalents and the widening price differential between petrol and diesel at the pumps the advantages of diesel - even with a tax penalty - are being wiped out.
• Forthcoming Euro 6 emissions standards - due to be introduced on September 1, 2014 for new models, and from January 1, 2015 for the registration and sale of new types of cars - could add ‘several’ hundred pounds’ to the price of diesel cars to ensure compliance.
ACFO chairman Julie Jenner said: “There are no valid reasons for today’s diesel models to carry a 3% company car benefit-in-kind supplement. It was introduced almost a decade ago for reasons than no longer exist. The tax system must reflect today’s vehicle technology and be fair and neutral irrespective of powertrain type. If the Government retains the 3% tax burden then it could see an increasing number of company car drivers opting for petrol-engined models with their improving MPG and lower list prices. Personal budgets are being squeezed, and evidence suggests that average company car mileage is reducing. If drivers can save money by selecting a petrol-engined model in comparison with a diesel car they will make that choice. Ultimately, the Government’s decision to retain the 3% supplement may prove to be counter productive and the tax-take will reduce.”
Meanwhile, the Government historically gave three years notice of company car benefit-in-kind tax thresholds, but that has slipped to two years with the 18-month-old coalition regime. In the spring Budget, the coalition Government confirmed company car benefit-in-kind tax rates through to 2013-14 prompting ACFO to issue a call in the spring for five years advance notification with vehicle replacement cycles extending.
That request was repeated at the recent meeting with Jenner saying: “Many employees have their company cars replaced on a four-year cycle so they remain in the dark as to what their benefit-in-kind tax burden will be in the third and fourth year. We had success with calling for three years advance notification and with some fleets adopting longer vehicle replacement cycles, we will continue to push for five years in our talks with Government officials.”