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    Drink driving at Xmas parties

    Drink-driving and Christmas Parties

    As the party season has already begun it is important for fleet managers to be aware of the increased risk of drink-driving, and therefore risk of accidents followed by negative impact on even a small motor fleet insurance policy. Last year the DfT released statistics showing that over 20% of drink-driving offences were from the morning after drinking and driving whilst still over the limit. 5,770 drink-drive incidents took place last year in the UK, and whilst this is a massive improvement from the 19,470 offences in 1979 when records first began, it is still very much an issue that needs attention.

    According to a survey conducted by RAC, company car drivers are twice as likely to drink-drive the morning after a Christmas party. This problem is not helped by the fact that many companies arrange their parties on a week night when drivers are expected to come into work as normal the following day. Many workers will drive because they feel they have no choice and awareness of how long it takes for the alcohol to leave the blood stream after drinking to excess is pretty low.

    The legal blood-alcohol concentration limit in England and Wales is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. But without a test, how can you know for sure when it is safe to drive? As a general guide drivers should allow at least one hour to absorb alcohol, plus one hour for each unit consumed, but it can take longer. As a good indicator if you’ve finished drinking 3 pints of strong lager (or one bottle of wine) at midnight (both 9 units) then you will not be rid of the alcohol until at least 9am the next day. If you have a heavy and/or late night drinking then you are likely to be impaired the whole of the next day.

    By taking measures to make your drivers more aware of how to ensure their own safety and that of other road users when it comes to alcohol usage then you are upholding your duty of care. Brake, the road safety charity, have a very useful morning after calculator which is worth distributing and can help your drivers to estimate when it is safe to drive the next day.

    Winter fleet maintenance

    At this time of year vehicle maintenance can be of extreme importance. Rather than wait for any problems to occur it is better to keep your fleets in a good state of repair and to ensure checks are performed prior to the bad weather kicking in. Here are some tips on the types of checks that your drivers should be performing:

    • Check spark plugs and replace any that are worn
    • Test the vehicle battery to avoid breakdowns
    • Check and top up and low fluids
    • Check and replace wiper blades and consider heavy duty blades in areas with snowfall
    • Check and replace headlights. Keep spares on board
    • Check the tyre pressure often and before each journey
    • Check tyre treads and sidewalls for dry rot
    • Check and replace any worn belts, hoses and brake pads
    • Clean and wax the exterior before the winter weather appears, protecting the vehicle from snow, ice, and salt

    Tips for fleets in the winter

    Winter driving

    Safety is paramount and during the winter months the driving conditions create additional unwanted hazards. To keep your drivers safe they should be asked to adjust their driving habits to take account for the bad weather and darker days, and increase their stopping distances. In order to avoid any unnecessary claims on your fleet insurance policy drivers should be aware that stopping distances can be as much as ten times longer in ice and snow.

    Here are some driving tips for your fleet vehicle drivers this season:

    • Stock up on a winter survival kit, including ice scraper, shovel, torch, blanket, and water
    • Clear windows and mirrors of snow, ice or condensation before moving away
    • Always keep headlights on in poor weather conditions
    • Keep fuel levels high, at least half a tank in anticipation of possible breakdown
    • Speed limits are only relevant to dry roads – adjust accordingly
    • Accelerate and decelerate slowly to ensure your tyres grip the road
    • In ice and snow pull away in second gear to avoid wheel spins
    • Listen to weather forecasts prior to long journeys
    • GPS systems will help monitor driving habits, route vehicles efficiently, and locate quickly in the event of a break down
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