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Business restricting drivers going eco

Date: 16 May 2007   |   Author: Rupert Saunders

Business car drivers are 'going green' and more are prepared than ever to change their driving habits to reduce environmental damage. But many company car policies are preventing them from making that change.

The current attitude of business car drivers to the environment is revealed in figures from the latest Bank of Scotland Vehicle Finance survey, which questioned more than 10,000 business car drivers about their experiences with company cars.

Fuel economy is now the second most important factor, after safety, when it comes to choosing a business car and a record number of drivers would consider changing their car as a result of the emissions-based tax regime. The findings contrast sharply with just a year ago, when fuel economy was ranked fourth, behind safety, performance and specification.

However, according to the survey, 27% of drivers questioned said they had a limited choice when selecting their business car.

Over 90% of drivers would consider opting for a dual-fuel car, if they were offered it - up from just 36% last year. However, when asked if their firm encouraged them to use alternative fuels, only 16% said yes and only 1% actually drive dual-fuel vehicles. Sean Bingham, director of new business at BoS VF, said the survey demonstrated that, "it's businesses themselves that need to review their green policies when it comes to fleet management".

He highlighted especially conflicting attitudes to public transport. While almost two-thirds of respondents said they would consider taking the train to meetings (and over half 'occasionally' do), 80% said their companies don't actively encourage the use of alternative modes of transport for business journeys.

Bingham added: "There is certainly a clear lack of direction by employers when it comes to encouraging alternative modes of transport. It is becoming evident that employers need to adopt a more flexible approach when it comes to travel arrangements.

"This is especially true when you take into account that more than half of the drivers we surveyed said they weren't comfortable making or receiving calls in their vehicle, even when using a hands-free kit. That's certainly a lot of business time wasted."

Increased congestion means the average UK driver spends a minimum of 70 days a year - almost a third of their working year - sitting behind the wheel of their car on company business, according to the survey.