Crashes cost council half a million in last five years

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Traffic accidents involving Scottish Borders Council employees cost the local authority’s insurers more than £200,000 last year.

Over the last five years, the local authority’s insurers have paid out more than half a million pounds because of accidents involving council vehicles.

Some of the most common reasons for insurance payouts include colliding with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, hitting a parked vehicle, and running over an animal.

Since April, collisions involving the council’s fleet have already cost the authority’s insurers £33,423.

As well as affecting insurance premiums and the cost of repair, crashes involving council vehicles also cost the council through the hiring of a freelance accident investigator.

During the 2017/18 financial year, the council’s external investigator looked into 179 accidents, costing taxpayers over £1,000 a month in fees.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance: “It’s completely ludicrous to see how much of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on higher premiums because of the disregard of council employees.

“Of course, accidents always happen, and we should hope that none of them are serious, but if these insurance policies were personal ones, I bet that there would be many fewer claims, as people will be scared of having to pay with their own money.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “The council has in place an accident reduction scheme which has seen the majority of council vehicles – including all new vehicles – fitted with cameras, which has helped reduce the number of incidents where the council was at fault in recent years.

“The accident reduction scheme does not look to take disciplinary action against drivers unless there has been serious misconduct.

“Instead, the cause of the incident is identified and future risk is reduced by training or changes to the vehicle or operational area.

“As part of the scheme, the council hires an experienced accident investigator for each incident who helps identify the causes and reduce the future risk.

“There was an increase in investigations during 2017/18, which was related to the extreme winter we experienced in the Borders in early 2018.”