Article date: 15 April 2008
Nearly a fifth of pool car fleets may not be roadworthy, leaving businesses exposed to extra costs and legal action, according to RAC.
Rigorous vehicle checking of over 21,370 pool cars conducted by RAC examining engineers deemed 16% to be unroadworthy.
Almost 8% failed to have correct fluid levels underneath the bonnet, 14% did not have the correct tyre tread or tyre pressure, and 19% of vehicles did not have a full service history.
Adrian McCarthy, head of RAC vehicle inspections service, said: "It's clear from our inspections that pool cars are often neglected or badly-maintained.
"With growing concerns over duty of care, especially with the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act, companies should look carefully at whether procedures and policies are in place to successfully run a fleet of pool cars, and minimise the potential risk of an accident and avoid the risk of prosecution.
"Fleet managers of pool cars should find these results alarming, as their own vehicles could currently be at risk of incurring high costs and scrutiny from the Health and Safety Executive, especially as 65% of company vehicles are involved in road accidents.*
"Making sure that sufficient fluid levels supporting the vehicle's power steering and ABS braking system is included in an inspection, along with basic checks of engine oil, a combination of water and antifreeze solution in the engine and ample fluid in the windscreen washer reservoir. However, some motorists fail to realise that the latter is a legal requirement and the others assist in the safe running of a vehicle."
"Driving with low oil levels could lead to a bill of at least £2,000 to replace an engine. The legal tyre tread for vehicles to be roadworthy must be at least 1.6 mm deep, although it is now widely recognised that stopping distances can be dramatically affected if the tread is allowed to drop below 3 mm. Apart from the safety aspect of checking a vehicle's tyres, a maximum penalty for an illegal tyre could cost the business £2,500."
"Basic checks and maintenance should be carried out before and after each use of the vehicle, especially since our findings show that pool cars might not be undergoing regular servicing.
"This ensures the effective running of a fleet and reduces costs over the full life of each vehicle. Furthermore, the value of a vehicle significantly diminishes without a service history.
"RAC suggests that fleets of pool cars should be independently inspected at a minimum of every three months to improve the general condition of a company shared vehicle. However, it's important when companies are purchasing inspections that they identify an independent provider with sufficient knowledge."
RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn on 01603 684 224 / 07800 692 909 or Sam Bramwell at Staniforth 0161 919 8024 / 07738 196667.
Notes to editors:
*RoSPA research 2006
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, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.
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 past two 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 (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15 per cent.
RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk