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Shift to mobility puts safety onus on fleets

A corporate-wide move away from company-provided vehicles and towards grey fleet and other mobility options could be undermining road user safety.

Martyn Nash, chairman, vGroup International

So says vGroup International as it adds that rising maintenance and repair costs is also necessitating a renewed at-work driving focus on road safety – including the inclusion of safety accessories in vehicles.

The firm points to latest Benefit-in-Kind statistics published for HMRC in June that indicate the number of company car drivers has dropped by 70,000 in the last two years alone, accelerating an ongoing trend of opt-out drivers and backed by anecdotal evidence from ACFO and the BVRLA. The industry is also seeing a rise in car sharing and possibly a return of pool cars in some businesses.

In response, Martyn Nash, chairman of vGroup International warns that many vehicle rental providers do not equip their cars with safety accessories, leaving drivers without invaluable equipment such as high-visibility jackets, LED flares, tyre service kits and warning triangles. He added that it is critical that safety accessories are located within a vehicle for immediate accessibility – in a glove compartment or side pocket – and not, for example, in the boot.

And there are also concerns that drivers of private cars do not have the same focus as fleets in terms of equipping vehicles with key features and also ensuring timely replacements of worn safety items such as brakes and tyres.

Nash said: “As the traditional vehicle ownership model changes to one of usership, the corporate sector – employers and vehicle rental and leasing companies – must have a renewed focus on ensuring all cars and vans driven on business-related journeys are equipped with safety accessories.

“Vehicles driven on business are an extension of the workplace. Employers must undertake a risk assessment and mandate for key safety accessories to be carried in all vehicles, irrespective of ownership, just as they would with a company-provided car or van.”

Meanwhile, the firm also warns that motor manufacturers are trending towards using thicker car glass to reduce ultraviolet (UV) light intrusion and limit the risk of people listening to in-vehicle telephone calls from outside a vehicle. As a result, vGroup International is sourcing upgraded life hammers to shatter the glass in the event of an emergency.

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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.