Roddy Graham' blog: 12 August 2010 - Government cracks in motoring safety appearing
12 August 2010
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
It seems as if we are seeing the first cracks starting to appear on the motoring safety front as Government and organisational cuts start to take hold. This has significant bearing on fleet operators.
On Tuesday of this week, it was reported that incidents of speeding had increased by 88% in Oxfordshire following the County Council's decision to switch off all speed cameras to save money.
According to the Thames Valley Safer Road Partnership, which monitored drivers on two roads over a period of five days, 62 drivers were clocked speeding on the Watlington Road, Cowley, up 88% while on the A44 in Woodstock, 110 drivers exceeded the 30 mph speed limit, 18% more than the average for 2010.
The Council will save £600,000 per annum following the switch-off at the end of July. As we know, fines generated by speed cameras disappear into central Government's coffers, never to be seen again, rather than directly fed back into road safety programmes or for local council transport budgets. Brake, the road safety charity, is deeply concerned but the Council states it's too early to draw conclusions.
Inevitably, speeding will creep up where speed cameras are switched off, with consequent repercussions for road safety.
Meanwhile, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSPA) has declared concern over the number of vans failing safety checks. Last year, it carried out 21,000 roadside safety checks with more than half of vans found to have mechanical defects of one sort or another, the most common problem being brake related.
The van sector is a good barometer of the state of health of the economy and short-cuts in maintenance are a sure sign that things are beginning to really bite.
Apparently, according to VOSPA, 45 per cent of vans fail their MOT indicating poor maintenance during their working life. It also seems that according to unpublished data, VOSPA has found a disturbing upward trend of MOT failures among vans.
Given that the VOSPA roadside check failure rates for HGVs and PSVs are much lower at 34 and 24 per cent respectively, vans are posing the greatest threat to road safety on our roads.
VOSPA is keen for van operators to adopt the good practice of HGV operators as outlined in the 'O' licence on preventative maintenance by, among other things, making van drivers conduct a daily check of the roadworthiness of their vehicle before starting deliveries and keeping proper records of those checks.
VOSPA has also noted a deteriorating trend in MOT failures for cars and light vans, rising from 33 per cent in 2006/07 to 36 per cent in 2008/09. These principally relate to brakes, lights, suspension and tyres.
Inevitably, as the cost saving squeeze gets tighter, the temptation to cut corners on proper vehicle maintenance will increase. The recession has certainly seen operators and drivers ignore what is basic safety and the trend will only get worse especially as vehicle service intervals lengthen and owners ignore the recommended service intervals.
Given the backdrop of duty of care, organisations need to take a sharp look at current practices as penny-pinching on servicing could prove a false economy. And now that the European Commission has ruled servicing by authorised dealers is not a pre-requisite to vehicle warranty maintenance, fleets can save money by going to non-franchised servicing outlets. All in all, there is no excuse for proper maintenance.
Follow BusinessCar on TWITTER