Using phone while driving

Fleet drivers distracted by mobile phones, poll finds

Fleet drivers may not be able to pay enough attention to the roads because they are distracted by their mobile phones, new research has suggested.

Always-on expectations from managers

A poll of 1,006 employees and 255 executive directors by the government-backed Highways England programme Driving for Better Business (DfBB) found 49 per cent of business leaders expect their employees to answer their phones at all times, even while driving for work.

As a result, 45 per cent of employees said they experience stress when they are behind the wheel and receive a call from their boss.

More worryingly, 61 per cent of employees said they do not always – or only sometimes – find a safe place to stop to take the call if their phone rings while they are driving.

Indeed, despite it being illegal, one in 20 executive directors and one in eight employees thought the hard shoulder of a motorway is an acceptable place to take a work-related call.

The study also found that 17 per cent of those who drive for work have been involved in an accident due to a phone call from a colleague.

Campaign manager for DfBB Simon Turner told FleetNews.co.uk: “Leaders must implement a driving for work policy that enforces legal and ethical obligations on all employees that drive on work-related journeys.”

According to the most recent figures from the Department for Transport, drivers using mobile phones were responsible for 33 deaths on Britain’s roads in 2017.

It is illegal to hold a phone while driving and motorists must have hands-free access if they wish to take calls.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “This study presents a worrying picture of the expectations some managers are placing on their fleet drivers. We would urge them to have a rethink and always put safety first.”

infrastructure poll

Infrastructure biggest worry for fleet owners

Fleet owners and drivers have been quizzed about their challenges and concerns for the future as part of a major new poll – and the findings make for interesting reading.

Leasing company Arval asked 3,980 fleets a range of questions about fleet and mobility trends for the firm’s 2019 Mobility Observatory survey.

Infrastructure and tax biggest worries

It found 49 per cent named a lack of suitable road infrastructure and the congestion stemming from this as their biggest perceived challenge over the next five years.

A further 30 per cent said tax, although these concerns may have been abated slightly this week as the government announced a freeze on company car tax.

Other worries listed included unclear government policy towards transport (19 per cent); alternative fuel policies (19 per cent); and the introduction of more clean air zones in urban areas (16 per cent).

Arval spokesperson Shaun Sadlier said: “The breadth of issues mentioned in response to this question shows that fleet and mobility managers are facing some very difficult challenges over the next few years.”

He added it is interesting that most of the issues mentioned by the respondents relate to external regulatory and policy factors and their impact on fleets, rather than the practical issues that might have cropped up.

However, clean air zones were sure to be high on the list, as their associated charges can add a big financial burden to those with older fleets needing to drive for business.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “This poll presents a vital snapshot of what is on the minds of fleet owners in 2019, and we hope the government takes it on board when developing future policies for the roads.”

Freeze company car tax

Treasury announces freeze on company car tax

The government has announced it will be freezing company car tax, as well as making future changes to such costs more transparent.

Changes in tax rates explained

For those with vehicles registered before April 6th 2020, company car tax bands will stay at the 2020-21 tax rate until 2022-23.

Anyone registering new cars after April 6th 2020 will benefit from a tax cut of two percentage points, while zero-emission company cars will not be required to pay any tax at all.

Following this, company car tax rates will then increase by just one percentage point in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

Going forward, the government also promised to announce percentage rates and changes at least two years prior to their implementation in order to help business owners and fleet operators to plan more effectively.

It is thought the new measures could benefit around a million drivers of company cars, as well as acknowledging the partnership needed with fleet owners in the transition to greener vehicles.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has welcomed the decision to freeze tax, with spokesperson Jay Parmar saying it shows the government is more appreciative that the fleet industry can help to deliver its wider economic and environmental ambitions.

He added: “The Treasury is giving back some of the unfair company car tax windfall it was set to receive … and providing some essential extra visibility on future tax costs for those looking to order their next vehicle. This is a good day for company car drivers and our members.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Company car tax is just one of the many costs associated with running a business, but this freeze could provide a vital saving for fleet operators across the country.”

SEAT secures best ever half-year for UK sales

SEAT secures best ever half-year for UK sales

Spanish carmaker SEAT continues to gain popularity among the UK buying public, with the company reporting its best ever first six months of a year in 2019.

The firm has recorded a rise in sales of 8.4 per cent in the year to date in comparison to the same period of 2018.

 

A record-breaking result for SEAT

A total of 314,300 SEAT models have been purchased by UK buyers during the first six months of the year.

This represents the largest ever half-year result for the business and sees SEAT exceed the 300,000 six-month sales mark for the very first time.

Indeed, June saw the brand achieve a ten per cent annual rise in sales, delivering the marque’s best June performance on record.

CUPRA CEO and SEAT vice-president for sales and marketing Wayne Griffith commented: “We are growing faster than our initial expectations, and this is despite the difficult environment we are in, where registrations in most European countries are either decreasing or stagnating. This favourable evolution is enabling us to gain market share and relevance.”

Overall, the company witnessed a positive shift in its market share on the back of this fine performance, rising from 2.73 per cent in H1 2018 to 2.98 per cent in H1 this year.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “SEAT continue to gain ground on their competition, and with a good few months to come could see themselves securing a record-breaking year.”

Sprinter takes top honours at the Motor Transport Awards

Sprinter shines at the Motor Transport Awards

Mercedes-Benz Vans has celebrated the success of its Sprinter model at this year’s Motor Transport Awards.

The model picked up the unprecedented honour of being named the winning Fleet Van of the Year for the tenth time.

Ten years of success for the Sprinter

Simon Neill, sales director at Mercedes-Benz Vans, commented: “This is a wonderful result and a great reflection of the hard work and commitment that as a team we are all putting in to ensure we keep our customers moving.”

Motor Transport editor Steve Hobson added the judges highlighted the strength of the Sprinter in holding its value as one of the key factors in their decision.

It was also praised for its leading use of technology, low maintenance costs and excellent reliability.

“From the enormous breadth of the range to the unwavering development and support from the manufacturer, the Sprinter and its backup define what an operator needs from a van,” he concluded.

Overall, the Sprinter continues to demonstrate a broad and strong appeal to UK fleet operators. Indeed, it was first named Fleet Van of the Year all the way back in 2003.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “To be awarded such a prestigious honour ten times in total is no mean feat, and the Sprinter truly stands out as a van beloved by the people.”