Vehicles driven by owner-operators working as part of the gig economy need to be brought into line with mainstream fleet standards, says FleetCheck.
The fleet management specialist says that these cars and drivers are really just another element of grey fleet management and should be treated in exactly the same way.
Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, said: “I dare say we have all had a parcel or hot food delivered to our home or office, looked at the vehicle that was being used, and strongly suspected that it would not meet even the most basic fleet standards.
“Yet legally, these are grey fleet vehicles to which normal grey fleet safety principles should apply, surrounding everything from maintenance to driver competence, as well as non-legislative corporate principles such as environmental considerations and more.”
Golding claims that the standards applied by companies operating in the gig economy appeared to vary widely.
He continued: “Some businesses seem to take their responsibilities seriously and apply the kind of measures that would be seen in any other fleet operation but others almost appear to have no managerial control at all, if the condition of the vehicles is used as a guide.
“Our view is that, over a period of time, in exactly the same way as recent employment rulings have made it clear that major gig economy platforms are employers rather than technology companies, their fleet operations will become more professional.
“The question is how long this process is likely to take? While it is underway, there are likely to be quite a lot of vehicles on the road that are potentially poorly maintained, badly driven, grossly polluting and perhaps even outright dangerous. This is clearly wrong.
“Do we as an industry have a duty to do something about this? That is a tough question but it could be argued that there needs to be some kind of mechanism to report gig economy vehicles and drivers who do not appear to meet the most basic standards.
“There is an argument that the Health and Safety Executive’s existing anonymous whistleblower system could be used, but perhaps the first step is to publicise the idea among gig economy workers that their employers need to be looking after their safety.”