Fleet News

Grey fleet operators are at risk of prosecution

Row of parked cars

A significant number of fleet managers are failing to fulfil their duty of care obligations with grey fleet drivers, research suggests.

One in four (27%) never check that an employee’s vehicle has a valid MOT; around one in five (18%) fail to physically inspect driving licences (although this process has changed with the new online system replacing the paper counterpart) and 13% do not check that drivers have the correct insurance to drive on business.

The findings suggest that many businesses remain oblivious to the cost challenges, environmental impact and legal risks associated with employees using their own vehicles in the course of their work.

It’s also particularly worrying when Lex Autolease claims, in its annual report on motoring, that there could be as many as 14 million grey fleet drivers in the UK.

Fleets must consider the legal ramifications around health and safety legislation and the potential for prosecution under corporate manslaughter, if an employee is involved in a serious road accident.

Around seven in 10 fleet managers said they were aware of this legislation and its implications for the grey fleet, and awareness is higher among those managing larger fleets.

However, the report suggests that around one in five fleet managers ether aren’t fully aware of the implications of this legislation or know nothing about it.

More than one in five (22%) also told researchers they believed the grey fleet posed no serious risk to the company and 17% concluded that complying to the letter of the legislation was disproportionately expensive when compared with the risk.

Paul Reddy, head of traffic defence at Slater and Gordon, said: “The slightest administrative error could result in the individual and company facing litigation.”

A grey fleet driver could move house, fail to notify the DVLA and drive through a speed camera, resulting in minor speeding offence.

A notice of intended prosecution is then sent to his ‘home’ address, but he fails to respond within 28 days. The DVLA write to him at the former address informing him of the penalty point endorsement; he doesn’t receive it or know about it.

Around this time he renews his insurance and claims he has zero penalty points. Soon after he is involved in a collision whilst driving for work and there is a fatality.

“His insurance is invalid as he ‘misled’ the insurance company regarding the penalty points,” said Reddy.

His employer is now at risk of prosecution and would be expected to show it had complied to the best of its ability with the law and fulfilled its duty of care obligations.

“In this new, paperless age, companies must keep even more meticulous records of drivers and their vehicles, particularly in the grey fleet,” Reddy warned.

The Lex Autolease Report on Company Motoring 2015 also shows that many fleet managers find it a huge challenge to check the roadworthiness of grey fleet vehicles – more than half (56%) of respondents said their organisation never physically checks vehicles.

Some organisations may not check information about the driver and their car because of concerns that they should not be asking for such ‘private’ information, given data protection legislation.

But when asked about this, only 6% of fleet managers thought asking for this information represented an invasion of their employees’ privacy.

The view of the remainder is an accurate interpretation of the Data Protection Act, as confirmed by the Information Commissioners Office, which said driving licence checks by employers were both “legitimate and important” (Fleetnews.co.uk: March 27, 2015).

The Lex Autolease Report on Company Motoring 2015 draws on the experiences of 249 fleet managers and more than 1,000 employees, and is supplemented by analysis of the Lex Autolease fleet of some 300,000-plus vehicles.

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