Duty of care inspections should not be overlooked, warns RAC

Article date: 8 May 2009

With vehicle service intervals getting longer, fleets are exposed to increased downtime and costs, says RAC. 

Following duty of care inspections of 140 fleet vehicles, the company found that 90%* had one or more faults that would have either caused a breakdown, led to costly repairs, or put the driver on the wrong side of the law.

Alan Kennedy, corporate partnership manager for RAC Inspections, said: "It's clear from our vehicle examinations that some fleets are failing to conduct adequate routine maintenance checks on vehicles, with some checking their vehicles only once a year.

"RAC examiners often see vehicles with damaged, worn or underinflated tyres, which put drivers at risk and increases fuel consumption.  Faulty brakes and steering have also been identified on certain fleets - which could easily cause a serious accident.

"Companies should look carefully at whether procedures and policies are in place to adequately maintain a vehicle to prevent fleets incurring high costs and scrutiny from the Health and Safety Executive, should an accident occur," he said. 

The average age of vehicles inspected was just under two and a half years, with an average mileage of 44,000.

"Often manufacturer warranties only cover vehicles for two years and those fleets considering extending leases could be left without breakdown cover, exposing them to downtime and additional costs. It could also mean they are contravening duty of care obligations if failing to adequately check fleet vehicles on a regular basis.

"Regular vehicle inspections are imperative to protect employees as well as a firm's corporate reputation. If a vehicle doesn't comply with the law it's the driver who faces the penalty and the company could be exposed to negative publicity.

"In addition, early identification of faults can prevent costly component failure, cut vehicle downtime and hire costs as well as minimise a firm's exposure to driver disqualification.

"Since RAC examiners aren't trying to sell repair and maintenance services, our only concern is the roadworthiness of fleet vehicles and the safety of drivers. Thorough checks by a fleet manager or by an independent third party can help to identify those fleet drivers who are failing to maintain their vehicles.

"RAC inspections can provide comprehensive reports that categorise defects. Maintenance issues are highlighted and reports provide evidence of corporate responsibility."

-ends-

RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn on 01603 684224/ 07800 692909 or Elinor Graveson at Staniforth on 0161 919 8025 / 07973 360 141.

Notes to editors:

*RAC Fleet Vehicle Inspections data 2009

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates RAC Insurance.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by J D Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the last three years.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (soon to be Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%. 

RAC is part of Aviva, the world's fifth largest insurance group which operates in 28 countries. 

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.

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