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Roddy Graham's blog: 27 June 2011 - Drivers cutting back on mileage

Date: 27 June 2011

Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo

Both motoring organisations have come out with surveys indicating how much drivers have cut back on their mileage due to the high cost of fuel.

According to the AA, in a survey of 150,000 of its members, 60% of drivers have reduced their mileage due to high fuel costs, with the numbers feeling the pinch of the price at the pumps having risen from 63% to 76% in the past six months.

By contrast, in a separate survey of 1000 drivers conducted earlier in the year by the RAC, 35% had cut down on short trips while 30% had cut back on longer journeys.

Probably, more interesting is the fact that nearly four out of ten drivers now attempt to combine a number of trips in one journey.

Ominously, if fuel prices continue to rise, 65% of drivers would cut back drastically on car journeys and 58% stated that travelling by car could become a luxury rather than a given.

Worst hit, obviously, are those living in rural areas who lack a public transport alternative. With unleaded petrol averaging £1.37 per litre and diesel now at £1.42, people are even looking at alternative means of getting to and from work.

At the same time, Quentin Willson is fronting the lobbying activities of the Fair Fuel UK Campaign. Quite rightly he points out that road transport oils the wheels of our economy and the prohibitive high cost of fuel is a barrier to economic recovery and growth.

On the other hand, we cannot continue doing the same things we have done in the past. We have to find new ways of doing business and driving at work is a case in point. There are alternatives to business mileage and, as all of us in the fleet industry know, the cheapest mile is the one never driven.

Any robust fleet policy these days should seek to reduce all 'at work' journeys to a minimum by challenging the necessity of a business trip and conducting a series of pre-journey assessments.

After all, in many cases, a meeting could be covered by an audio or video conference call, or simply by a telephone call or via e-mail.

Where a journey is really necessary, like many private motorists, consideration should be given to whether the journey could be combined with others or be shared among colleagues.

Using a car is not always the most economical or environmental-friendly answer. A combination of car and public transport can often be the best solution, using the car to gain access to the nearest rail or tube station.

In order to best control business mileage, fleets should also operate some form of mileage capture and reporting solution which acts, at a base level, as an online journey log of organisational business mileage.

A mileage capture and reporting tool simplifies a fleet manager's burden by saving money, reducing admin and auditing business mileage. It can also help steer fleet policy by providing CO2 emissions data, which can help meet CSR obligations.

We have to be cleverer all round. As we seek new fuels to propel our vehicles we need to seek new ways of doing business, which, let's all face it, may not involve use of a vehicle for business use at all. Where it does, we have to be smarter about how we use, monitor and report it.

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