By Alex Kapadia
Company bosses and their drivers could find themselves facing serious charges in court if they ignore motor maintenance, according to a vehicle management group.
Fleet Support Group is warning that particular attention must be paid to tyres and brakes in the wake of a court case where a driver and his business partner were jailed for the manslaughter of a couple who died in a road crash after basic and crucial vehicle maintenance was ignored.
The court case highlights the impact that ignoring routine maintenance checks and repairs can have.
Now police and legal advisers to Fleet Support Group are urging fleet decision-makers to ensure that, despite the recession, vehicle maintenance remains a top priority.
Geoffrey Bray, chairman of FSG, says although businesses may have maintenance policies outlined in driver handbooks they are frequently being ignored by employees.
Video evidence from FSG’s Masterview technology reveals how company car and van drivers abuse their vehicles and has uncovered a ‘chamber of horrors’, according to Mr Bray.
“We have many examples of evidence filmed by members of our garage network of employees who have ignored clear signs that maintenance is required on the vehicle they are driving,” he said.
“With long vehicle service intervals – often up to 20,000 miles – it is more important than ever that drivers ensure their cars and vans are mechanically sound; but drivers are not doing this because our garages are discovering bald tyres, worn out brakes and other mechanical problems on an almost daily basis.
“Companies may think they have a vehicle maintenance policy in place, but it is not being followed by drivers in many cases. The images we see regularly on Masterview highlight that this is a major problem.”
At Leeds Crown Court this month (November), coach driver Robert Oughton was sentenced to five years and three months in prison after he admitted charges of causing death by dangerous driving and gross negligence manslaughter.
His business partner in travel firm 1.4.You Coaches, John Lote, who pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter, was jailed for three years.
The coach, which was taking a children’s marching jazz band and their parents to a competition at a holiday camp, was involved in a crash with a car on the A64 near Scarborough in September last year.
The couple in the car died instantly, with passengers on the coach suffering minor injuries.
An investigation by North Yorkshire Police, working with the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency, concluded that the cause of the crash was acute brake failure due to poor maintenance.