Failing to manage the safety of those employees who drive their own vehicles for work purposes - the so-called ‘grey fleet’ - could be an accident waiting to happen.
It’s perhaps understandable to imagine that employees who occasionally drive their own vehicles for work don’t fall within the fleet manager’s remit when it comes to duty of care. After all, they own the vehicle and anything that happens to it, or them, is surely their responsibility... isn’t it?
Sadly not. The Health and Safety Executive makes it quite clear that any organisation employing more than five people must have a written policy statement on health and safety, and this should cover work-related road safety. The HSE’s guidelines, supported by advice from the Department for Transport, say that in the event of an on-road incident, employers must produce evidence that they have taken reasonably practical steps to manage driving employees’ duty of care. They make no distinction between those that are given a company asset to drive and those that choose to fund one themselves.
So just why should this particular driver segment be subject to the same checks and balances that a company car driver routinely would be?
There are two separate considerations here – the driver and the vehicle.
If your employee is being entrusted to make a journey while representing your company or brand, are you certain that:
- they have a current, valid driving licence?
- they don’t have a history of own-fault collisions?
- they don’t have speeding convictions or other driving-related offences?
- they have no medical condition that might compromise their ability to drive safely?
- they have had an eye test within the past two years?
- they have the correct skills, attitude and motivation to avoid a collision
- they are aware of all the organisation’s driving-related policies and guidance in the driver’s handbook, assuming there is one?
Can you be sure that:
- it is road legal and has a valid MOT certificate?
- that, even if it has a current MOT certificate, it is legal at the time of the journey? When were the tyres last checked? Is the washer bottle full? Are the lights working correctly? Are the brakes effective?
- it is insured for business use and that there are no restrictions on use in the policy?
- it is fit for purpose, particularly if the employee is required to take a passenger, be it a work colleague or representative from a supplier or even a customer ?
- it has a current road fund licence displayed?
- the vehicle, both inside and out, reflects the attributes of your brand as you wish them to be perceived by whoever comes into contact with it?
For total peace of mind, the only answer is to record all the relevant driver and vehicle details on a central database and ensure that they are refreshed at least once a year. At least then you have started to establish some form of audit trail should you be prevailed upon to produce those ‘reasonably practical steps’ referred to earlier.