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Limited intelligence

Date: 03 October 2007

The Insider is a fleet manager with years of invaluable experience

A recent suggestion that fleets will leap to trial speed limiters for cars is wishful thinking, says the Insider

How to become the most hated man in the company in one easy move (and in the face of some strong competition): stick my hand up to fit speed limiters to all the company's cars.

It won't have escaped your attention that the Government-funded Commission for Integrated Transport has suggested that fleets be the first to trial speed limiters. The thought being that the positive message of economy and safety will be too uplifting for any right-thinking company to ignore.

The chair of CfiT (a word you can't say without spitting), a certain Peter Hendy, thinks it's a no-brainer: "Companies will want to fit them because why would any business want to allow its employees to break the law?" he told the Times.

So that's decided then. Order up a couple of mil right now. Us fleet managers will all be beating a path to the door of Life Stops at 70 PLC and installing their wonderful, karma-enhancing devices.

I can just imagine the dagger looks I'd get if I turned with a bunch of black boxes at a company meeting and told them this was the future of motorway driving. The daggers would be replaced by contemptuous laughter, led by my boss. In a pride of lions I'd be chased off the savannah, a freshly chewed flap of flesh hanging from my leg.

The chief complaint would be this: what would be the point when the limiters have their greatest effect on the motorway, the safest type of road in the UK. In town they currently do nothing, but even if we had a satellite-based system that understood local limits, I'd vote for training-backed common-sense over a black box any time.

What ticks me off is that my reluctance to fit them will be interpreted as resistance to safer or more economical driving. Which is rot. I'm as keen as the next fleet manager on cutting my company's carbon print and improving the safety record. Just not like this, and neither will any fleet manager I've ever spoken to. Vague claims that my insurance bills will come down (the Times article) will be taken with the sodium-based scepticism they deserve.

I had a quick look down the list of the 15 transport leading lights who comprise the Commission for Integrated Transport. Hendy himself is seconded from Transport for London, which isn't a great start. I found no-one qualified to speak on behalf of fleets, no-one even standing up for car drivers full stop. Even the CBI board member is from the environmental side. If there was a fleet rep, they'd have long ago disabused Hendy of the idea that we'd leap to embrace limiters. Not while keeping drivers happy is still part of our job.