Informa Markets

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October 3, 2023

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Managing the safety of employees driving their own vehicles

Grey fleet is a perennial problem for employers in the UK. Even more of a problem is that most do not realise the full extent of their responsibilities if an employee is driving their own vehicle for work purposes beyond commuting.

It has been estimated that we have up to 14m grey fleet vehicles in the UK, but many are not managed or even insured for business, so it is difficult to be accurate. The issue could be even bigger as, since the COVID lockdowns, many staff have been redesignated as ‘home-based’ which means even an occasional drive to the office becomes a work journey.

If an employee is driving on business an employer has a duty of care and a legal responsibility to ensure:

  • The employee has a valid licence.
  • The vehicle in insured for business use.
  • That it is roadworthy and has a valid MOT.
  • That the vehicle is appropriate for the types of journey being made.
  • And that all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure the employee’s safety on the road and that of the public they may encounter.

A further consideration is that grey fleet vehicles tend to be older and more polluting than company owned assets, which will negatively impact the company’s carbon footprint. The average company car is usually somewhere between one and four years old, however, the average age for a grey fleet vehicle is around 8 years old, with some much older, meaning they are less likely to be fitted with modern safety systems and collision avoidance technology, and regular maintenance becomes ever more important.

Keeping track of grey fleet vehicles is essential for compliance and also for helping organisations transition to newer, safer, greener fleets. Once you understand the age and emission levels of your grey fleet, you can implement strategies to reduce both such as a money saving, sustainable staff car benefit scheme.

How to manage grey fleet

  1. Compile a proper database of grey fleet vehicles for the whole organisation and keep it up to date. You can start this process by looking at which employees claim business mileage but don’t restrict it to that. A grey fleet journey is any journey that wouldn’t have been made if the employee didn’t work for you – whether they claimed for the mileage is irrelevant.
  2. Make sure all licence, MOT and insurance checks are conducted frequently.
  3. Make sure all your drivers have been given a copy of your driving for work policy and that you have documented their acceptance of the policy in the same way you would with a company vehicle driver.
  4. Educate them about risk-conscious journey planning including safest routes, suitable breaks and rest periods.
  5. Ensure they are aware of impairment factors such as over the counter and prescription medications, recreational drugs, alcohol, fatigue and distraction. All necessary technology use should be set up pre-journey and calls should not be taken while driving.
  6. Educate drivers about pre-use checks and the need for regular inspections and servicing. Random checks of the company car park are a good way to ensure checks are done.
  7. Ensure drivers confirm they are complying with your driving for work policy, and that their vehicle is safe and roadworthy, every time they submit a mileage claim.
  8. Ensure that employees know that whatever their job title, when driving they are a professional driver first and foremost.

Improving the grey fleet

You can improve driver safety with training and monitoring systems, such as a driver behaviour app. There are a number available which work on any mobile phone.

Some organisations use their group purchasing power to offer salary sacrifice leasing or purchase schemes to encourage employees to move to newer, safer and less polluting vehicles. This is a valuable employee benefit and helps to reduce risk and carbon footprint.

Extend professional training resources designed for van and HGV drivers to anyone who drives for business – or even to their families. E-learning or toolbox talks can be a low-cost and effective way of engaging the whole driving community.

Driving for Better Safety - Free eBook download

This eBook will guide you through some of the key understandings you need to be able to manage driver safety effectively and, at the end, provide a series of free resources you can access to help you ensure your own driver safety management system is robust, legally compliant and in line with industry-accepted good practice.

Download this eBook from Driving for Better Business and SHP to cover:

  • Why do we need to manage driver safety?
  • Duty of care – a shared responsibility;
  • Setting the rules with a driving for work policy;
  • Managing driver safety;
  • Ensuring safe vehicles;
  • Safe journeys and fitness to drive;
  • Record keeping;
  • Reporting;
  • The business benefits of good practice;
  • Additional resources

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