Fleet association ACFO has urged companies to introduce enhanced grey fleet management polices due to a rising number of grey fleet drivers.
ACFO recently held a webinar for its members entitled ‘Not so Grey: Managing Opt Out and Private Vehicles’, which is now available for members on its website.
The rising trend of employees opting for cash in lieu of a company car, due to a perceived rising tax burden and uncertainty over future benefit-in-kind tax rates, makes grey fleet management ever-more critical, says ACFO.
There are around 14 million-plus privately-owned vehicles driven on work-related journeys, compared to around 940,000 company cars on the UK’s roads, according to HMRC, and the number is growing as more company car drivers choose to take cash.
One of the key messages from the webinar was that who owns the car is largely irrelevant as the duty of care to manage occupational road risk is the same.
Simon Turner, campaigns director of RoadSafe, which delivers the Driving for Better Business campaign, said in the webinar: “Grey fleet will probably form a vital part of most companies’ future mobility solutions when integrated with other travel and communication options. But it needs to be effectively managed if it is to be successful. Employers must ensure they have well thought-out policies and processes in place and stick to them.”
And, he outlined a number of key areas of focus, including that driver licence checks were essential and that driver policies should be shared with grey fleet drivers, just as they would be with company car drivers.
At the same time, similar driver profiling, assessment and training regimes should be in place for both grey fleet and company car drivers; grey fleet vehicle checks should be undertaken including the status of servicing, MOT and Vehicle Excise Duty; and business insurance should be in place.
The sentiments in the webinar are supported by a number of suppliers. One of the most vocal is Licence Check.
Richard Brown, director of sales at Licence Check, claimed that many companies were failing to recognise they have a legal obligation to ensure grey fleet vehicles are safe to use, fit for purpose and lawfully on the road, and that they are culpable in the event of accidents that occurs.
Licence Check research has shown that after speeding, some of the most common endorsements on the licences of grey fleet drivers were for construction and use offences, such as bald tyres, defective brakes or carrying an unsafe load, and insurance offences, typically vehicles uninsured against third party risks.
“Employers put themselves at risk of claims by third parties if employees are driving on company business and are involved in an accident, without having proper business insurance cover," said Brown.
“Equally, there is a risk that employees who are driving vehicles that are not roadworthy could cause harm to others, which could lead to the employer being prosecuted and heavily fined if they do not have a robust grey fleet policy in place.”
Grey fleet drivers should be included in any corporate risk assessment and treated the same as any other employee driving on company business.