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E-SAFETY CHALLENGE: ESC tops agenda at E-Safety event

Date: 28 July 2010

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has joined the chorus of voices urging fleet operators to adopt electronic stability control (ESC) in all business cars.

Hamilton, who was unable to attend the E-Safety Challenge 2010 event at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire earlier this month through illness, said in a statement that ESC was the most important safety device since the seatbelt. "I would especially like to ask fleet managers to buy cars with ESC," added Hamilton, saying that as fleet vehicles were a major share of new cars they can then set standards for safety: "Fleet purchasing is a great way to promote safety across the spectrum."

ESC anti-skid control, which will be compulsory on all new vehicles from November 2014, reduces the likelihood of being involved in an accident by 25% according to a Department for Transport study.

Hamilton added: "When there is an option I would always choose a car with ESC. Don't wait for ESC to be mandatory."

Road safety charity Roadsafe said, where ESC remains an option, the cost for fitment is typically around £400.

During a panel discussion at the event to promote and highlight the life-saving potential of advanced vehicle safety tech, Stephen Farmer, MD of Balfour Beatty Plant and Fleet Services, said ESC is standard on all its vehicles. As a Driving for Better Business champion with a 8500-strong fleet, Balfour Beatty has a target of 'Zero Harm' to staff, sub-contractors and the public by 2012. As well as specifying ESC, Farmer said electronic-safety technology will continue playing a major part in meeting the target.

"Ignoring safety is a false economy. The more sophisticated fleet vehicle buyers are not penny wise and pound foolish. If all fleets demanded e-safety the manufacturers will deliver.

"It makes absolute perfect sense that if we can reduce accidents and injuries to our staff then that will deliver savings to the business."

In the discussion, Tony Leigh, fleet manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that to encourage the increased fitment of ESC, the Government could exclude the cost from BIK tax.

Meanwhile, Julie Boyd, director at TR Fleet, said fleets were motivated by whole-life costs when selecting vehicles, and unless e-safety technologies were included in this, it would be hard to get fleets on board.

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