Safety must be a priority, says company car expert

14 February 2002
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14 February 2002 | Geraint John

Purchasing managers who run company car fleets need to look beyond cost reduction and consider wider social issues, according to the author of a new report.

Growing public concern about the safety, as well as environmental, effects of car usage following the Selby rail disaster means that firms can no longer afford to see fleet management as simply a cost-control issue, said Professor Peter Cooke, head of the Centre for Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham Trent University.

His report, Social Responsibility and the Business Car, argues that how cars are used is becoming as important as the way they are acquired.

Business car provision "needs to be governed by a framework that stipulates… the condition the vehicle is maintained in, how it is driven and the effectiveness of the person behind the wheel," it says.

For purchasing and other fleet managers, this means a broader responsibility, Cooke told SM. "They have got to focus more on the total proposition, not just the cheapest way of providing a car."

The report notes that company car drivers were involved in 50 per cent more accidents than private motorists and that board directors may be liable for deaths and injuries caused by employees using cars for work purposes.

A further problem is tax changes due to take effect in April, warned Steve Taylor, UK managing director of GE Capital Fleet Services, which sponsored the report. The changes, which are designed to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, will penalise high-mileage drivers using bigger-engined cars the most.

"A risk for companies is that they lose control of those drivers, because they take cash instead," said Taylor.

• Copies of the report are available from GE Capital Fleet Services on 0870 444 9020

SMfeb2002

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