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HR FOCUS: Go low CO2 at Hertz

Date: 18 June 2009

Greener rentals, banning hands-free phones, basic and emergency training and leasing less big polluters all catch Paul Barker's eye in this month's HR Focus

Another step along the road to greener company strategies was taken last week when rental firm Hertz announced it will finally let customers book a specific low-emissions car.

It's only from half-a-dozen London locations initially, but at least it's a start. The cars - VW's Passat Bluemotion and the Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi - will be available from the firm's central London sites at Marble Arch, Victoria and Russell Square sites, as well as the Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airport locations.

Hertz calls the scheme its Green Collection, and has picked out 70 sites in Europe. All Green Collection vehicles can be reserved specifically by make and model, which is a first for the rental industry and something that's been called for quite some time, and all are sub-140g/km for CO2 emissions, with half under 120g/km. Hopefully it's the start of fleets being able to specify the exact vehicle they want from their rental provider, to keep pushing emissions down, especially in the face of the expected continued scrutiny of all businesses' travel arrangements and their environmental impact.

Mobile ban calls

Training firm Pivotal Performance has joined the voices calling for fleets to consider banning drivers from using mobiles, even on hands free, while driving.

"A good risk assessment doesn't just look at what you have to do to stay within the law," says Pivotal director Jane Gillham. "It helps you protect your staff as much as you can without significantly interfering with day-to-day operations. Just because hands-free kits are legal, it doesn't mean companies should allow staff to use them."

Gillham is pushing for firms to make it company policy to switch off phones at the start of journeys and pick up messages when they stop. "If they decide to do this, they should have a written policy in place and ensure all staff are clear on what is expected of them," she said.

Meanwhile, over in Shropshire, one company has stumbled across the benefits of driver training. Hager UK is planning to put all 90 company and pool car drivers at the electronics firm through a four-hour course supplied by TTC Group.

The classroom and on-road course is voluntary, but Hager sales director John Cooper said no staff have yet refused.

Cooper said the course taught him to keep a safer distance from the car in front, read road signs better, park away from other cars in public car parks and increased his knowledge of the highway code - though, to be honest, most of that should be stuff your drivers already know.

The training adds to Hager's current policy of eyesight tests, annual licence checks and monthly car safety checks.

Still on the training front, RoSPA has joined forces with St John Ambulance to improve the first aid charity's driver training programme and work on an accredited training scheme for its 25,000 volunteer and staff drivers.

The agreement, where RoSPA will tee-up a range of training, including for those staff driving on emergency calls, will focus on improving drivers' awareness of road risks and provide practical training to reduce risk. The training will also be made available to other organisations.

Emissions drop

Here's proof that fleet policies (and taxes) are having an impact. Masterlease has reported a drop in the number of heavy-emitting vehicles being leased. At the beginning of 2007, 19% of the vehicles it leased were in the top two CO2 bands, but that dropped to 11% in April 2009.

At the other end of the scale, the number of vehicles leased that fall into the lowest bracket has gone from 2% to 7% in the same period.