Employers that lease cars and vans with an inclusive maintenance package should not assume that they are actually being maintained, warns FleetCheck.
The fleet software specialist says that, especially in smaller businesses, there is often a circle of assumptions – employers assume that the driver and leasing company are carrying out maintenance; drivers that it is the responsibility of their employers and the leasing company; and the leasing company that the issue is being tracked by employers and drivers.
Peter Golding, managing director, said: “This is something that we come across reasonably often and which we have seen a spate of in recent months, especially in SMEs.
“The issue is one of confused responsibility. The employer hands over the lease car and the leasing companydetails to the driver and assumes that they will look after the vehicle.
“However, the driver is often waiting for the leasing company or the employer to give them prompts and, because of their pressures of their job, will sometimes continue to use a vehicle until something actually goes wrong even if even the service reminder light is on.
“Leasing companies know that the legal responsibility for ensuring that the vehicle is maintained lies with the employer and so their systems are often set up to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to maintenance - although they would clearly have something to say if a vehicle is returned unmaintained because it will affect the value.”
Golding said that managers who did not put systems in place to ensure that vehicles were being properly maintained were leaving themselves open to prosecution.
“If a serious accident occurs and an improperly maintained vehicle is part of the reason that it happened, then the owners and directors of the business will be at fault and could be given a custodial sentence,” he said. “It’s a very serious matter.
“Essentially, the managers of these businesses have handed a huge responsibility to their drivers without putting any systems in place to ensure that they are meeting fundamental legal responsibilities.”