by Andy Allen, UK fuel card manager, BP Fuel Cards
While some of the UK’s large fleets can be identified by colour (yellow for DHL etc), the biggest fleet is harder to spot – because it’s grey.
When non-company vehicles are driven on company business, these are known as ‘grey fleet’.
Research indicates there are four million-plus ‘grey fleet’ vehicles in the UK – three times the number of British company-owned cars – and it’s growing.
When on company business, cars in the grey fleet become the employer’s responsibility.
Because grey fleet vehicles don’t belong to the company, managing them involves additional financial, legal and environmental difficulties compared with a conventional fleet. Managers must know any grey fleet vehicles meet legal road requirements.
The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stipulate that an organisation has the same duty of care towards all its employees making work-related journeys – regardless of ownership.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to ensure, as far as is reasonable, the health and safety of all employees while working.
Employers also have a responsibility to ensure that others aren’t endangered during any work-related driving activities, and, following an incident, an organisation needs to demonstrate its legal obligations observe corporate manslaughter laws.
An organisation must hold details for all those who drive for work. This helps ensure drivers have valid licences and are fit to drive, and that any vehicle being used for business is properly maintained, insured and has a valid MOT.
With grey fleet drivers there’s an additional emotional attachment that people have to their cars, so fleet managers should be mindful of this when introducing any safety enhancing initiatives.
Overall, a grey fleet should be subject to the same risk assessments, auditing and maintenance procedures as any regular fleet. It’s more challenging with grey fleets because it’s harder for managers to precisely monitor their drivers and vehicles.
Ultimately, you need to ensure that a proven risk management process is used to manage all work-related road risks, including grey fleet. Duty of care, regardless of the ownership, must be fleet managers’ top priority.