Green, safe fleets make good business sense

Nigel Trotman, business relationship manager at Whitbread: This week it seems another survey is published warning those of us involved in the management of company cars that we must take the environment and road safety more seriously. Green is obviously the ‘new black’ as far as fleets are concerned, and the government has now finally legislated on corporate manslaughter, so safety is also high on the agenda.

To us old fleet hands, the warnings come as no surprise as we have been hearing both with increasing frequency for some time. However, should we take them seriously, or is this just another trend? We have all seen fashions in fleet come and go – remember when liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was the fuel of the future, for example? However, experience has shown me that in both areas there is a good business case to take the right road.

Running a green fleet (which does not necessarily mean lots of hybrid cars or planting thousands of trees on the other side of the world) can have significant benefits for a company. Simply reducing the overall CO2 emissions of a fleet reduces P11D costs for the driver, national insurance contribution costs for the company, and encourages fuel-efficient driving. It also gives you a positive story for shareholders.

The key factor is to engage the company and the drivers in what you are trying to achieve. We have seen annual savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum from the measures we have adopted since 1999. Interestingly, our green fleet consists of Audis, BMWs and VWs, hardly the traditional image of a green fleet.

On the road safety side, there are also significant benefits from identifying those drivers who may be at risk and taking appropriate action. This may involve in-car or online training, or specific actions following an accident.

Again, engaging the company and the drivers is key to success. In this area, it is perhaps rather more of a challenge – being seen to query someone’s driving ability is rather threatening to some. However, experience in many fleets supports our own – taking these actions reduces accident frequency (and therefore repair costs), and all the inevitable consequences. Overall, drivers also take a much more positive view when they have been through the process.

So why wouldn’t any company want to run a green, safe fleet when it makes such good business sense?

Nigel Trotman, business relationship manager at Whitbread