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Innovative solution to ‘rocketing’ vehicle fines revealed in ACFO webinar

Fleet vehicle motoring fines are on the rise but an innovative solution introduced by outdoor advertiser Clear Channel UK and revealed in the latest ACFO webinar may provide fleets with one way to reduce charges.

L-R: Jane Taylor, James Pestell, Glenn Ewen and Julie Summerell at the ACFO ‘Managing Penalty Fines’ webinar recording

Already a major issue for many fleets, company car driver motoring fines rose 41% in the first half of 2019, according to Lex Autolease data.

While driver communication is business-critical to reducing the number of fines, Clear Channel UK has also found a further way to significantly cut the costs involved, helping to slash the firm’s annual £65,000 fines bill.

As revealed in ACFO’s webinar on ‘Managing Penalty Fines’, fleet manager Glenn Ewen has persuaded the company’s vehicle leasing providers to re-register Clear Channel UK’s fleet of 280 light commercial vehicles and 130 company cars to the firm’s own address, giving the company first sight of any fines and eliminating administration fees levied by the company’s leasing providers on some 25 fines incurred per day.

The solution, described by Julie Summerell, managing director of TR Fleet and ACFO digital chairman, as “innovative”, also saw Clear Channel register as many vehicles as possible with local authorities responsible for managing traffic cameras. That was because many of the fines related to parking and bus lane infringement as employees changed billboard advertisements and undertook maintenance work at around 40,000 bus shelters nationwide.

Ewen said commercial vehicles, which typically incurred fines at a rate of 20 per day at a cost of £50,000 a year, parked at bus shelters while work was being undertaken were exempt from bus lane regulations. He added: “We now contest all fines and win 99.8% of the time. Our vehicles are clearly liveried and if we lose it is usually because the rules have been broken.”

In respect of company cars, which previously incurred a fine bill of some £15,000 a year with an average five penalties per day, any fines now received are immediately passed on to drivers for payment.

Ewen said: “Drivers receive a copy of the fine notice and are told to deal with it and pay, but we do encourage drivers to appeal fines. However, if Clear Channel receives a ‘charge certificate’ giving notice to pay the original fine plus 50% more then, as a last resort, the payment is made through expenses or payroll. For persistent offenders their line managers and HR are copied in.”

Summerell said: “I think that getting leased vehicles to be re-registered in the lessee’s name is quite unique. I don’t know any other fleet that does that. It will be interesting to see how leasing companies react if other fleet managers follow Clear Channel’s lead.”

The ACFO webinar builds on the association’s campaign work to help fleet managers combat the rocketing number of fines issued to drivers and comes as fears grow that the volume will continue to escalate with the advent of low emission zones nationwide.

ACFO says that driver communication is essential to help combat the issue and ensure they understand company policy

Digital secretary James Pestell added: “Too often fines get detached from drivers because they are paid by an employer’s leasing or fleet management company and then recharged with no appeal. Drivers must take ownership and responsibility.”

Jane Taylor, sales and marketing manager at traffic fines management specialist SAFO Group, added: “We believe the effective management of all fines will help to reduce and conquer bailiffs’ visits. Fleets must protect themselves.”

The webinar is available as a download from the ‘members’ area’ of the ACFO website.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.