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As businesses tighten their belts in the face of an economic slowdown, Europcar, the UK’s leading vehicle rental organisation is urging employers to engender safe driving practices amongst staff who may find themselves needing to travel abroad for business for the first time.  

David McNeill from Europcar says: “When headcounts reduce and businesses are under pressure, roles change and business travel overseas may become a new aspect of a job.  It’s all too easy to assume that the confident sales person in the UK will be confident dealing with road travel in a foreign destination. Businesses need to consider the measures they can put in place to protect themselves and their employees when driving abroad.  With the strengthened corporate manslaughter legislation this year businesses really can’t afford to take their eye off the ball when it comes to staff safety.”   

To assist businesses in meeting their duty of care responsibilities, Europcar has provided some travel tips for employers and their staff:

 Europcar’s Top Tips for Safe Travel Abroad  Checking Vehicles Before Travelling ­– You must ensure the car you are travelling in has recently been serviced and is fit for travel, that there is enough fuel and tyres are at the right pressure levels etc. Vehicle rental can play an important role in risk management, enabling employers to get staff on the road, knowing they have all the bases covered. 

Do your Homework – Plan your journey in great detail before you set off.  Know the road rules in a new country.  These often vary per country.  Note important places like local police stations, hospitals, petrol stations just in case of an emergency.Research the safe areas and any trouble spots at your destination. If you decide to go exploring whilst in a new country ask your hotel concierge for tips on areas to be avoided.  

Enable Your Mobile Before You Travel – Check with your mobile phone, blackberry network provider that these devices are able to roam internationally.  Not only will these be needed to stay in contact with work but will give travellers added piece of mind in case of emergency. But remember not to use your mobile when you are driving, always pull over first. 

Be Prepared and Observant – Pay attention to your surroundings and don’t make it easy for any potential thieves. When driving, keep doors locked and windows closed where possible.   

Out of Sight Out of Mind – Business travellers often carry eye-catching valuables such as laptops or mobiles, which could be tempting to a would-be thief.  Ensure you keep valuables out of sight – even when driving; thieves can easily grab something when you’ve stopped at lights and don’t leave valuables overnight in a locked car.  

A Crime of Opportunity – In some countries you need to be aware of carjacking. It often happens late at night and carjackers look for easy targets so don’t attract attention to yourself or your car. Make sure you know your route as carjackers have been known to target motorists who look unsure of where they are going or are looking at maps at traffic lights. When at lights try to leave a gap between your vehicle and the one in front – being too close to the car in front will prevent you from escaping if a carjacking gang attacks. Finally if your car is nudged, take their car details down rather than follow them – some carjackers use this tactic to get your attention and distract you. 

Getting In and Out – When approaching your car, stay alert, walk with a purpose, and have the key ready in your hand. When parking choose a well lit area and avoid parking next to anything that limits your visibility – such as woods or large vans.

Don’t Stand Out – Women travelling alone may be more vulnerable so be sure to dress appropriately when abroad. For businesswomen travelling in strongly religious or male-dominated societies, there are often dress rules and breaking these may put you in jeopardy.

Breaking Down – Ensure you have all the necessary contact numbers for recovery vehicles.  If you are renting, these will be provided by the rental company with 24/7 assistance.  If you break down it is important not to leave yourself open to opportunist crime. It can be potentially dangerous to break down in unfamiliar areas especially if it’s after dark and you’re alone. So while waiting for breakdown services, try to park somewhere well lit.  If visibility is poor, switch on your hazard warning lights or keep the sidelights on. If you’re in an unfamiliar place don’t wander around but stay in the car with the doors locked and if someone tries to get into the vehicle attract attention by sounding the horn.

For further press information please contact
Alison Reeson, Elinor Puzey or Louise Fowler at HSL, Churcham House, 1 Bridgeman Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9AJ.  Telephone: 020 8977 9132.  Fax: 020 8 977 5200.  corporateteam@harrisonsadler.com 

Notes to Editors  

Owned by the French private equity firm Eurazeo, Europcar is the European leader in passenger car and light utility vehicle rentals. Since March 2007 with the acquisition of Vanguard EMEA (National & Alamo brands), its network comprises over 5,300 rental outlets in 160 countries. Europcar serves business and leisure customers throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. Excluding franchise operations, in 2007 Europcar signed more than 10 million rental contracts, with 7,700 employees and a fleet exceeding 215,000 vehicles.

For more information: www.europcar.com 

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