Fleet operators have been warned that police forces across the UK are waiting to convict one of them under corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide legislation.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class at 2012 ACFO

The chilling message was delivered to fleet decision-makers attending this year’s Mercedes-Benz sponsored ACFO Conference and AGM by Sgt Gareth Morgan, supervisor of South Wales Police Driver Training.

To-date there have been just two successful prosecutions under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, but neither were linked to fatalities involving at-work drivers.

Historically police forces investigated ‘death on the highway’. However, they now look for ‘responsibility’, which in the case of at-work drivers could include investigation of the roles played by fleet decision-makers, company directors and other employees in implementing and managing an occupational road risk management strategy.

“90% of accidents are as a result of human behaviour,” said Sgt Morgan, who advocates businesses using psychometric profiling as a successful method to enable drivers to self-evaluate their behaviour on the road and organisations to develop and implement at-work driving risk management strategies.

Psychometric profiling has been successfully introduced by South Wales Police with a resulting 10% reduction in accident rates in the last 12 months.

Suggesting that psychometric profiling is more successful, cheaper and more efficient than on-the-road driver training, Sgt Morgan added: “Fleet managers must ask if the at-work driving risk management processes they have in place will withstand scrutiny from the police service.

“Psychometric profiling encourages drivers to reflect on their thoughts and change their driving behaviour. It delivers behavioural and attitudinal change and by coaching and mentoring, improvements can be benchmarked that are recognised by the courts.

“We are using psychometric profiling successfully in the police to facilitate self-belief that an individual can make a real difference to their risk by raising self awareness of driving risk and encouraging ownership of risk management. We are focusing on goals for life and skills for living. The method can be just as beneficial to fleet managers and their businesses.”

ACFO in talks with HM Revenue and Customs over electric car mileage rates

Talks are taking place between ACFO, the UK’s leading fleet-decision-makers’ organisation, and HM Revenue and Customs, over mileage reimbursement rates for employees driving electric cars.

An increasing number of electric cars are being launched into the market and HM Revenue and Customs has yet to officially clarify both Advisory Fuel Rates and Approved Mileage Allowance Payments.

Advisory Fuel Rates apply where employers reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars or require employees to repay the cost of fuel for private travel. Set quarterly, the pence per mile figure is linked to the engine size of the car with different rates applicable for petrol, diesel and LPG models.

Approved Mileage Allowance Payments are paid to employees who drive their own cars on business. In 2012/13 the tax-free pence per mile figure us 45p for the first 10,000 business miles and 25p for each subsequent mile.

ACFO chairman Julie Jenner said: “HM Revenue and Customs originally indicated that the AMAP rate would apply. However, that figure bears no reality to either the cost of the fuel or the whole life cost of the vehicle. The tax office must also take into account where vehicles are recharged – at the drivers’ home or place of work.”

She added: “ACFO has a close relationship with HM Revenue and Customs and dialogue is continuing with officials over what the reimbursement rates for electric cars should be. Tax officials are undertaking financial modelling to ascertain what a fair pence per mile rate is in respect of both Advisory Fuel Rates and Approved Mileage Allowance Payments.”

ACFO asks members to help compile wrong tax code dossier

ACFO is calling on members to provide it with evidence of company car drivers either paying too much or not enough benefit-in-kind tax as a consequence of receiving an incorrect tax code from HM Revenue and Customs.

The leading organisation for fleet operators has teamed up with industry publication Fleet News to compile the evidence after a number of fleet managers complained about incorrect tax codes issued to their drivers.

ACFO directors are already aware of one company car driver at a member organisation who is believed to have overpaid about £3,000 in benefit-in-kind tax, while another driver has received a bill for £1,000 due to an underpayment.

ACFO chairman Julie Jenner said: “Our members are telling us that the correct information in terms of benefit-in-kind tax value of the car and the appropriate carbon dioxide emissions figure has been provided to HM Revenue and Customs, but it is their belief that it has been interpreted wrongly.

“We want to get to the root cause of the problem and ascertain the scale of the issue. We will be surveying members in the next few weeks and based on the information that we obtain we will compile a dossier of evidence that we will take to HM Revenue and Customs.”

Evidence of the problem associated with incorrect tax codes first came to light earlier this year as a result of an investigation by industry publication Fleet News.

Fleet Newseditor Stephen Briers said: “We’re delighted to be joining ACFO in this initiative. We have spoken to many fleet managers in recent weeks and they have all said that this is a major issue which is costing them time to sort out and resulting in unhappy drivers. It’s important that fleets get in touch with us so we can take a strong case forward to HM Revenue and Customs.”

Early last year, some ACFO members highlighted concerns that local HM Revenue and Customs offices were ‘changing’ company car P11D values because they believed those quoted were incorrect. ACFO compiled a list of more than a dozen examples, which HM Revenue and Customs’ investigated.

Mercedes-Benz aims to become number one premium fleet manufacturer

Mercedes-Benz is aiming to become the UK’s number one premium fleet manufacturer, Nick Andrews, the manufacturer’s head of fleet sales, said at the ACFO Conference and AGM.

The event, held at Mercedes-Benz World, Brooklands, Weybridge, saw the UK debut of the marque’s all-new A-Class, which will go on sale in January 2013.

Mr Andrews said the decision to give a UK debut to the new A-Class at the ACFO event underlined the importance of the fleet sector to Mercedes-Benz.

He told delegates: “We want to be closer to the fleet market than we have been historically. Mercedes-Benz fleet sales department is open for business and it is my job to make Mercedes-Benz more accessible to fleets than we have ever been before.

“We want to become the number one premium fleet manufacturer in the UK in terms of sales and market share and for the best fleet manufacturer experience.”

Mr Andrews also said that AMG – the Mercedes-Benz sporting brand – would become more prominent in products starting with summer 2012 changes to the C-Class.

Stressing that Mercedes-Benz was ‘all about improving efficiency’ he highlighted how the marque’s core fleet models – the recently launched B-Class as well as forthcoming changes to the C-Class, the launch of the E-Class hybrid and the new A-Class, which made its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March – were key to ensuring fleet competitiveness.

Mr Andrews said:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions on the new B-Class were up to 26% lower than on the previous model
  • Nomenclature on the C-Class would change from SE, Elegance and Sport to Executive SE, AMG Sport and AMG SportPlus from June production in readiness for August customer delivery. Alongside specification improvements he pledged: “From a whole life cost perspective we are making Mercedes-Benz an affordable proposition.”
  • The third quarter 2012 launch of the E-Class hybrid would mark the introduction of the world’s first premium diesel hybrid. Delivering 231 bhp, it will return 65.7 mpg with emissions of 109 g/km.
  • The arrival of the new A-Class in January 2013 with emissions from 99 g/km would be a ‘true competitor’ to the likes of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.

Smarter driving delivers financial savings for fleets

Businesses and public sector organisations across Britain are helping their staff to cut fuel bills by hundreds of pounds a year by encouraging them to driver smarter.

To put organisations and their drivers on the road to cutting fuel bills, the Energy Saving Trust runs its own smarter driving training course.

More than 30,000 company drivers have to date completed the Energy Saving Trust’s smarter driving course achieving an average 14.6% reduction in fuel use.

That equates to a cash saving of approximately £250 based on driving 12,000 business miles a year, David Nicholas, a fleet consultant at the Energy Saving Trust told ACFO’s conference.

Under the eagle eye of an advanced qualified driving instructor, employees are being given 50 minutes of on-the-road tuition.

The aim is to encourage motorists to anticipate what is ahead of them on the road and drive as smoothly as possible, avoiding harsh and aggressive acceleration and braking.

Experts view smarter driving as the solution to improving road safety, saving the environment and, ultimately, saving organisations and drivers money.

Although motor manufacturers are introducing an increasing number of ever more fuel efficient vehicles to the market, Mr Nicholas says adopting smarter driving techniques will still boost fuel economy.

“Regardless of how fuel efficient a vehicle, there is scope to improve a manufacturer’s MPG figures through driver training,” he told ACFO Conference delegates.

ACFO directors elected

ACFO has returned to full strength with a six-strong board of directors. John Pryor, group fleet and travel manager, Arcadia and Bhs Group and an ACFO director since 2006, who retired by rotation, was re-elected at the organisation’s AGM. Additionally, Caroline Sandall, fleet manager, Barclays Bank, was elected in succession to Stewart Whyte, who resigned as a director last year.