THE VAST MAJORITY of small fleets are failing to meet the most basic of Duty of Care guidelines, according to one of the largest ever road safety surveys.

Fleet software and occupational road safety expert Jaama conducted a survey of 2200 companies operating fleets of more than five vehicles throughout 2005. Participants included MDs, finance directors and HR managers as well as fleet operators. Although the survey showed an increase in awareness of Duty of Care issues among smaller fleets over the year, one in five (21 %) of those businesses surveyed were unaware of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘Driving at work: Managing work-related road safety’ guide by the end of the year.

More worryingly, the survey discovered that, at the end of last year, 40% of the respondents were aware of the HSE’s guidelines, but had still not implemented a road safety policy. Jaama md Jason Francis said: “0ur research concluded that larger fleets and those that have regular access to fleet information were reasonably well informed and generally had good policies in place”. “However, the vast majority of operators of small fleets – 90% of the respondents operated sub-200 vehicle fleets – were falling short of even basic requirements and it is this sector that we must educate further.” The survey also discovered that 15% of companies continued not to check employee driving licences and three-quarters (75%) of fleets did not monitor drivers’ hours.

A further area of concern is that many businesses that allow their staff to drive their own vehicles on work-related journeys do not undertake basic checks as advised by the HSE. These include the checking of MoT certificates on vehicles over three years old, ensuring that cars are insured for business use and that vehicles are in a roadworthy condition.

Francis explained: “It may be that companies, particularly smaller companies where the use of privately owned vehicles on business is perhaps more prevalent do not realise that in the event of an incident the company and its bosses could be held liable. ‘While our survey shows that many more companies have implemented road safety strategies during the course of last year, it also shows that many businesses still have a long way to go in ensuring compliance with HSE best practice and the law”