Company vehicles are obvious targets for driver safety programs, but what about the estimated 4 million drivers who run errands for their employers, drive their own vehicle to meet with customers or sales appointments and part-time workers who use their own vehicles as subcontractors to larger commercial enterprises to install products or services?
This so-called Grey fleet represents one of the single most at-risk groups for businesses today. Why? First, grey fleets are often hidden within larger commercial enterprises, in which the focus is on driver performance for commercial or professional drivers.
Second, many businesses with Grey fleets do not realize they actually have a Grey fleet and are liable for on-the-job driver performance.
And finally, many businesses with grey fleets mistakenly think that an employee’s own insurance coverage will protect the company from on-the-job accidents.
However, just because an employee does not use a company-provided vehicle for a business journey does not absolve the company or the fleet manager from their duty of care responsibilities.
The law is clear – the company still has a legal duty of care to that employee, regardless of vehicle ownership so the Grey fleet needs to be managed in exactly the same way as company owned or leased vehicles.
However, because Grey fleet vehicles are not supplied by a company, there are unique problems a fleet manager faces in trying to manage the safety of those vehicles.
Driver licence checks still need to be carried out, observance of tyre and maintenance schedules still need to be checked. Questions such as does the vehicle have a valid MOT? Are its tyres above the legal tread limit? Does the driver have a valid licence? Is he/she fit to drive? Does the vehicle have business-use insurance? All need to be asked and the answers verified.
Organisations should also remember that anything they do for an employee using an owned or leased vehicle must also be offered to employees in the grey fleet.
For example, utilising FleetCheck to record vehicle checks, deliver online training courses, document driver performance and help enforcing policies gives employers the ability to keep on top of things.
At the end of the day, managing and monitoring driver performances also requires consistent communication and a commitment to enforcing stated company driving policies. When employees understand what is expected of them and those expectations are reinforced by employers both win.