Safety vs Cost Control

A question which is often avoided by car buyers, which is more important – keeping costs low or safety? Many people want to appear as if safety is their highest priority, however more often than not, they will often choose a vehicle based on low whole of life costs rather than the safety features.

This is also a vital question for companies who own a fleet of vehicles. Businesses have the obligation of providing staff with a safe workplace, and if a vehicle is used for the purpose of business then the company car is also part of the workplace. But the cost of a safe vehicle can come at the expense of efficiency, often involving higher capital or leasing costs as well as higher fuel consumption. 

According to the Transport Accident Commission, ‘road crashes are one of the most common reasons behind work-related injuries, fatalities and absence in Australia’ (howsafeisyourcar.com.au). Studies have shown that one quarter of all company cars in Australia are involved in crashes each year.
 

But why do company cars typically have higher crash rates?

This can be explained by several factors:

  • Drivers spend more time on the road
  • Employees have longer distances to cover
  • They are often under time pressures and tight schedules
  • Company car drivers also tend to be less concerned about car damage, making them more reckless with a company vehicle than their own
     

So how does this affect your business?

1. Financial costs including superannuation, unplanned absences, car costs and payments to third parties.
2. The human toll of road crashes can be devastating and can affect the morale and well-being of all staff.
 

The low-down on "efficient vehicles"

Every company’s vehicles will be different depending on the industry they’re in.  However, in every product line of vehicle, there are those with which may be considered more efficient for buiness than others, often at the expense of safety. By efficiency, we mean in terms of capital costs, fuel and maintenance expenses, etc. Often a vehicle of a heavier weight will often have a higher safety rating but higher running costs (due to higher fuel mileage, etc). Also, the cost of a safer vehicle may also have a higher asking price than its less safe companion.

While safety features are slowly becoming standard features on newer models, there are still some vehicles where they come as an add-on feature. Businesses have to make the decision whether or not to include variable add-ons such as ABS, traction control or Electronic Stability System, among other safety features.

In addition, each type of vehicle determines the safety designs behind it. For example, heavier vehicles such as trucks or SUV’s have more safety features than those on the other end of the scale (i.e. vans or small cars). However, these larger vehicles have a reduced level of efficiency, i.e. higher fuel consumption and leasing or capital costs (as mentioned earlier). While it depends on the requirements of the company, company vehicles should be based on both safety as well as efficiency.
 

But does this mean that your business should be  "splashing out" on high end safety features for your vehicles?

While the costs of safety (ABS, airbags, etc) when buying a car may seem like it leaves your wallet a little lighter, the true price of safety is invariably somebody's life. As an employer, you are required to provide a safe working environment - this includes the company vehicle.

What do you look for in a vehicle?

Do you believe safety should always come first when buying a new vehicle?

Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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