Fleet News

Warning over grey fleet risk

Vehicle leasing and fleet management companies need to do more to help their corporate customers manage the risk to their businesses posed by what is known as the ‘grey fleet’.

The warning comes from the director of technology firm Drive Software Solutions, Simon West-Oliver.

He said: “The term grey fleet refers to vehicles which are not owned by or leased by an organisation, but which are used on behalf of that organisation. Typically this means cars which are owned by employees of the organisation and which are occasionally or regularly used for work related journeys."

There are two significant issues here for organisations, the first and the most serious is to do with risk management. If a firm is paying its employees to ferry each other around in vehicles, do they have any way of knowing if those vehicles are roadworthy? If not, the company would be rightly exposed to questions about health and safety at work.

“A secondary issue relates to keeping track of organisations’ carbon footprint, for example, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has issued guidelines to Local Authorities which require them to provide a large inventory of CO2 emissions including emissions from own electricity and gas use, own transport, business travel, grey fleet (i.e. transport owned by employees which costs are claimed back via expenses) and contractors.”

The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), “The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities when at work. This includes the time when they are driving or riding at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle, or in the employee’s own vehicle. There will always be risks associated with driving. Although these cannot be completely controlled, an employer has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to manage these risks and do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm in the same way as they would in the workplace.”

West-Oliver added: “On the face of it, grey fleet is an issue for end user fleet operators to worry about and most leasing and fleet management companies only get involved in the management of their own vehicles. This means that companies have to cobble together a Heath-Robinson way of checking driving licences, vehicle CO2 figures and MOT certificates, which can be time consuming, inefficient and costly.

“We see the management of Grey Fleet as a major opportunity for leasing and vehicle management companies to engage far more closely with the businesses who lease cars from them. By employing proper database driven systems, leasing companies can hold and manage data about vehicles and drivers on behalf of their customers and deliver seamless access to that data which will allow those customers to protect themselves from unnecessary risk.”

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