Over half of company car drivers still unaware of business mileage rules

Written on June 29, 2015

According to new information from YouGov, over half (56 per cent) of company car drivers are currently unaware of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regulations on reclaiming business mileage.

Any business that uses a company car must legally report it to HMRC, especially if the car is also used for personal trips.

It’s a legal requirement for companies to keep mileage reports in order to demonstrate how their vehicles are being used.  If the company doesn’t provide free fuel for company drivers to use privately, then their records must demonstrate this.

Drivers are required to record both ‘to’ and ‘from’ locations as well as the reason for the journey and the number of miles travelled.

The survey, commissioned by ABAX, found that 36 per cent of employees don’t update their mileage log any more than once a fortnight, leaving their companies exposed to inaccuracies as a result.

Frank Ystenes, ABAX UK managing director, said:

“It is crucial business owners and employees understand the laws and ensure accurate records are kept otherwise the penalties can be high.”

Cambridgeshire-based engineering company, Ivor Searle were a notable example.  They received a visit from HMRC earlier this year and it was found that their employee mileage claims were actually being estimated and couldn’t be reconciled with their fuel card invoices.

As a result, the company may now be fined and the driver could face a full benefit charge despite the number of unaccounted miles being relatively small.

David Eszenyi, operations director for the firm, said:

“It is something you don’t necessarily think about on a day-to-day basis when you are concentrating on the bigger picture of running a company.

“Our employees were manually logging their mileage in to a spreadsheet each month. The HMRC inspector noticed a small number of discrepancies in one of the mileage logs and alerted us to them.

“We employ around 110 people and as a medium sized business we don’t have someone specifically looking after our vehicle fleets, it is a combined effort. We now realise our understanding of the tax regime wasn’t as it should be and are taking steps to make sure it is in the future.”

One-in-six business drivers feel ‘invincible’

Written on June 22, 2015

One-in-six business drivers feel ‘invincible’ when driving and never consider their safety to be at risk, according to new research from Masternaut.

Van and LCV drivers are the ones most likely to feel ‘invincible’, with only 10 per cent not considering their safety whilst driving.  This contrasts heavily with the 26 per cent of public transport drivers and 17 per cent of business fleet car, HGV and lorry drivers who do.

15 per cent of business drivers said that they feel vulnerable all of the time whilst driving, with HGV and lorry drivers feeling the most unsafe at 21 per cent.

2,000 UK employees were surveyed in order to highlight the progress in road safety education amongst those that drive as part of their job.

Steve Towe, chief commercial officer and UK managing director, Masternaut, said:

“Our research shows that a high percentage of business drivers don’t consider their safety to be at risk – despite driving being amongst the most dangerous profession.

“Research from The Institute of Advanced Motorists’ Drive & Survive shows that 86 per cent of fleets have experienced an accident in the past 12 months, so it’s alarming to see so many drivers still not considering their safety when driving.”

Motorways were unsurprisingly cited as the most unsafe roads on which to drive, with 27 per cent of drivers concerned about safety whilst using them.  This is interesting, as 3.9 per cent of all 2013 UK accidents actually took place on a motorway, making them statistically the safest type of road to drive on.

Rural roads also caused drivers to feel unsafe, with 25 per cent saying they felt vulnerable. This figure rose to 42 per cent for HGV and lorry drivers and 36 per cent of LCV and van drivers.

More than half of drivers remain unsure about drug driving

Written on June 18, 2015

A new report has found that nearly half of drivers are still confused by the new drug-driving law.

The survey – which was carried out by Insurance Revolution – found that 53.3 per cent of drivers believe they still don’t know enough to completely understand the change in law.

The new legislation came into effect on March 2nd, and includes restrictions on 16 drugs.  Penalties include a minimum one-year driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.

Two people per day were said to be caught in the early days of the new law, with police officers using ‘drugalysers’ to test drivers.

One of the major concerns of the new law was that it could affect those using prescription drugs as well as those taking illegal drugs.

16 of the drugs covered under the new law are available on prescription:

  • Clonazepam,
  • Diazepam,
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam.

Mark Rigby, head operating officer, Insurance Revolution, said:

“Drug driving is deadly and needs to be wiped out, but while this is a good step towards that, we need to be sure that there is no confusion regarding the implementation of new driving laws and regulations moving forward.”

Though the issue is serious, it’s apparent that there is genuine confusion amongst UK motorists.  Many people are simply unaware that prescription drugs are covered under the new law.

Almost a third (28.8 per cent) of participants in the survey believed that the new law would definitely help cut the number of drug drivers and accidents, with 38.2 per cent unsure that the repercussions for driving under the influence are strict enough.

34.4 per cent of those with experience of drug driving claimed that it doesn’t affect the body in the same way that alcohol does. Indeed, more than half of those aged between 18 and 24 believed that drug driving actually makes you a better driver.

Drivers clocking cars to avoid mileage penalties

Written on June 8, 2015

According to valuations guide Glass’s, current drivers are clocking their cars in order to avoid excess mileage penalties on fixed mileage leases.

An increasing number of drivers are relying on mileage adjustment companies using specialist equipment in order to artificially reduce the number of miles on their odometer.

Because most of the vehicles involved are supplied new and are less than three years old, they don’t have an MOT certificate and often only have a single service stamp.  As a result, the paper trail can’t be used as proof that the mileage has been changed.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations for Glass’s, said:

“Some drivers facing a PCP returns charge may consider clocking as an easy way of avoiding payment but their actions are illegal.

“The issue tends to come to light when the car is prepared for sale either by the original dealer or another who has subsequently bought the car, probably at auction.

“When they plug the vehicle into their diagnostic rig as part of their standard vehicle preparation procedure and, depending on the model, an error code will show what has occurred.

“This places the dealer in a very difficult position because it is next to impossible to prove when the clocking took place. It is often too late to take any action against the driver because the PCP returns paperwork has already been processed and, anyway, they will usually just deny that they have clocked the car.”

Pontin said that several cases of this type have been seen in recent months at both dealerships and motor auctions.

“At this stage, it is very difficult to say how widespread this practice might be but we are certainly seeing an increasing amount of industry ‘chatter’ about the subject and it is considered a growing problem, especially as PCPs continue to massively increase their market penetration,” added Pontin.

Clocking by dealers – which was once considered almost the norm within the motor trade – has now become almost non-existent as a result of the severe and strict penalties now in place for those caught.

Half of UK motorists break traffic laws

Written on June 5, 2015

Around 50 per cent of motorists have admitted to previously breaking traffic laws, and half of them revealed doing so on purpose, according to a new survey put together by insurance company Direct Line and road safety charity Brake.

Half of those who’d broken the law said they did so through inattention, with the other half claiming it was simply because they felt they could get away with it, or because they didn’t agree with the laws in place.

Law breaking was more common amongst men responding to the survey, with around 60 per cent of women and only 42 per cent of men claiming that they never broke driving regulations.  Men were also twice as likely as women to flout the laws due to thinking they could avoid being caught.

Other notable points to arise from the survey included:

  • Increased levels of driver safety, with drivers simply more confident with their own skills than they were 10 years ago.  69 per cent considered themselves to be safer than most other drivers, an increase on the 50 per cent in 2005.
  • Drivers judging others more harshly.  58 per cent of respondents claimed there were more dangerous than safe drivers on UK roads.
  • Youngster confidence, with 17-24 year olds more likely to rate their driving as safer than other peoples: 58 per cent considered themselves ‘much’ safer.
  • Distraction being the most commonly witnessed broken rule, with tailgating, speeding and risky overtaking also common.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:

“As these figures make clear, law breaking on our roads is not just down to a minority but endemic.

“For whatever reason, many seem to feel they are beyond the law or that traffic laws are somehow optional. This represents a failure by government to ensure traffic policing is receiving adequate priority and to make clear the importance and legitimacy of traffic laws.”

Fleets reminded that TPMS fault is automatic MOT fail

Written on June 3, 2015

In a new campaign by TyreSafe, fleet operators are being reminded that a car displaying a Tyre Pressuring Monitoring System fault will fail its MOT automatically.

Millions of cars across the country are currently fitted with TPMS systems that monitor tyre pressure and alert the driver to either under or over inflation.

Stuart Jackson, chairman for TyreSafe, said:

“Although TPMS technology has been around for decades, its inclusion in new model vehicles has only been mandated in Europe since 2012 and on all new cars since 2014. This led to a gradual introduction into the market over a period of years and with little or no fanfare to help educate motorists.

“Our members have been telling us that they’re encountering a lot of customers who either aren’t aware of how these systems work, and need to be maintained, or just see them as an expensive luxury rather than the crucial safety feature they are.

TyreSafe have created a new video as part of the wider TPMS awareness campaign that covers a range of different informational products such as leaflets and posters.  Emphasis is also obviously still on regular manual tyre safety checks; pressure should be tested at least once every month or before any long journeys.

Another thing that drivers need to consider is TPMS system maintenance.  Though the systems are largely designed to last for many years (and miles), it’s often a good idea to have them checked occasionally.  Sensors can sometimes become faulty or fail as a result of weather damage, corrosion or accidental damage caused when changing tyres.

Smart motorways causing ‘widespread confusion’ says IAM

Written on June 1, 2015

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has accused the new smart motorway network of causing ‘widespread confusion’ amongst UK drivers.

Smart motorways were introduced last year in an attempt to replace managed motorways in order to aid the congested British network, but several concerns have since been raised regarding their safety.

The country’s first ‘all-lane-running’ motorway (i.e. one without a hard shoulder) first opened on April 14th last year; a 2.5km stretch set between junctions 23 and 25 of the M25.  Complete schemes – all of which have different speed limits and all-lane running – are currently being operated on sections of the M1, M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62.

One of the major concerns raised by motorists was the safety of those who had broken down on a motorway with no hard shoulder, given that this leads to a much greater distance between refuges.

Last year, the IAM conducted a survey on the introduction of smart motorways, and found that 71 per cent of drivers said they would feel less safe on a motorway with no hard shoulder. 40 per cent of respondents said that they were now sceptical that new monitoring systems on the smart motorways would be able to protect them in the event of having to stop in a running lane.

Sarah Sillars, IAM Chief Executive Officer, said:

“There are many different motorway users out there and some are still confused and nervous about using smart motorways – if they are aware of them at all.

She continued: “Highways England must analyse incident data on a continuous basis and ensure that any lessons learned from the real world use of SMART motorways are implemented quickly.

“Ultimately, the smartest way to build awareness would be to allow learner drivers to use motorways under expert supervision.”

The IAM has produced its own set of tips on using smart motorways, and how to react to seeing different signals.  Their policy document on smart motorways can be found here.

Record high for truck and van sales

Written on May 18, 2015

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that van and truck registrations reached a record high between January and March of this year.

The number of trucks and vans registered in the three months reached 108,456; the highest quarter received on record.  The figures represent a real boost for a sector that had suffered – as many did – during the economic downturn.

Only 221,132 CVs were registered during 2009– down from 388,488 in 2007.  The past 12 months, however, have already seen 384,120 registrations and it’s expected that demand will continue.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said:

“Commercial vehicles are crucial to the functioning of Britain’s economy and these latest figures paint a very encouraging picture.

“As business confidence grows, demand for the latest vans and trucks is now back to pre-recession levels – outpacing the rest of Europe. This year’s Commercial Vehicle Show promises to mirror this success, with a huge range of new products on show.”

GDP is growing and consumers are currently spending more on goods and services.  As a result, they’re more able to invest in vehicles to deliver them.  Some CV operators are currently returning to the market having held off new purchases during the recession.

Demand for vans is particularly high at the moment, with home deliveries across the UK growing.  97,775 vehicles were registered within the last year, an increase of 22.3 per cent on the previous year.

Commercial vehicles continue to play a crucial role in the British economy, with 4.4 million vans and trucks operating across Britain’s roads.

New plan to save public sector fleets announced

Written on May 15, 2015

A new framework agreement has been put in place that could save public sector fleets millions of pounds through the purchase of vehicles at an average discount of 24 per cent.

The new arrangement has been compiled by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), an executive agency of the Cabinet Office, and will set terms and conditions for suppliers.

More than 35,000 vehicles are expected to be purchased through the new scheme each year, bringing in an overall value of around £553 million.

Last year, CCS provided more than £110m of savings to the struggling public sector through various fleet agreements, with more than 32,000 vehicles being purchased through one of their operations.

A spokesman for the agency said that more public sector operations would now move to work within a CCS arrangement in order to ‘take advantage of the discounted rates’.

The programme is now the official framework through which the government departments procure vehicles but devolved agencies such as health departments, schools and councils have the option of opting in or out.

The new agreement also covers the bluelight sector with bodies such as police, fire and rescue, ambulance trusts, the Highways Agency as well as the Marine and Coastguard Agency and other agencies with specific vehicle requirements all likely to use it in future.

The CCS has also worked closely with the UK police forces as part of developing the agreement to ensure that it provides the specific vehicle types required by the police.

In addition to their work covering vehicle purchases and the supply and fit of tyres, a number of other arrangements are in place covering vehicle conversion and re-conditioning as well as the provision of other fleet necessities such as electric charging installations, fuel cards, liquid fuels and insurance services.

The new vehicle purchase framework agreement provides access to a wide range of different vehicles across different ‘lots’ including cars, 4x4s, commercial vehicles, buses, coaches and motorcycles, working with a total of 41 different suppliers.

AA launches new ‘motorist manifesto’

Written on May 12, 2015

The AA has launched its own Motorists Manifesto in the run up to the general election, and has set up a simultaneous #Vote4BetterRoads digital campaign in order to urge politicians to do more for UK motorists.

During the last 12 months, the AA has been surveying British motorists in order to find out the major issues affecting them, with tax the major issue of late.

UK motorists currently pay more in fuel duty alone than UK businesses pay in business rates, and nearly as much as is paid out in council tax. Of the £582.6 billion raised in UK taxes during the last financial year, almost 10 per cent came from motorists.

The AA argument is that roads are still suffering from issues such as potholes and deep puddles, as well as hiked parking permits and strict fines from minor parking and traffic infringements. As such, many motorists don’t feel they are being treated in accordance with the amount of tax they pay.

Edmund King, president, AA, said: “Thirty five million drivers, most with a vote, need to influence politicians in this election. We know that transport issues can influence votes locally. Several local councils have been unseated due to unpopular parking polices, so when those canvassers knock on your doors make sure you ask them about motoring matters.

“We will endeavour to do our bit by sounding out all the main political parties on their motoring and transport polices, reminding them that motorists can vote with their wheels.

“The AA does have influence; prior to the last election we were instrumental in getting two out of the three main political parties to pledge to outlaw rogue wheel clamping on private land. The good news is, after further pressure from the AA, this was subsequently achieved.

“There is always a fear that the motorist will be made the ‘cash cow’ once the election is over, when political parties feel they can quietly drop manifesto promises. Rest assured, the AA will be putting pressure on the parties to come clean on plans for fuel duty, vehicle excise duty (VED), company car tax and the use of tolls to pay for new and/or improved roads. Indeed, our research found 85 per cent of AA Members are concerned that motoring taxes will increase after the election.

“The vast majority of AA members (93 per cent) wouldn’t trust any government to deliver a fair system of tolls. Hence we will continue to oppose tolls and believe (as in Scotland) tolls should be dropped from key river crossings.

“We know that in the past motorists have been influential in elections. It was believed that votes from ‘Mondeo Man’ helped Tony Blair to victory in 1997. The AA is apolitical and we understand that elections are not won or lost on motoring issues alone. Health, education and the economy tend to sway the results. However, transport and motoring are key to economic growth in the UK and shouldn’t be side-lined.”