Fleet News

Grey fleet and mobile phone policies put drivers at risk

Mobile phone use while in a car

One in six at-work drivers says they have been involved in an accident when taking a call from a colleague, new research suggests.

The study, commissioned by Driving for Better Business (DfBB), also revealed a worrying lack of checks for employees driving their own car for work, the so-called grey fleet.

It showed that half of business leaders polled (49%) expect their employees to answer their phone at any time, including while driving for work. 

Almost half of employees (45%) said they experience stress when they receive a call from their boss while driving for work. One in six employees who drive for work (17%) said they have been involved in an incident when driving for work due to a phone call from a colleague. 

Despite it being illegal, one in 20 executive directors and one in eight employees thought the hard shoulder was a safe place to take a phone call.

Meanwhile, six in 10 (61%) employees admitted they do not always, or only sometimes, find a safe place to make or receive a work call when driving for work with just over one in eight (13%) thinking it safe to take a phone call while parked on the hard shoulder of a motorway.

The findings also showed that despite three quarters (75%) of executive directors claiming to ensure employees are aware of their legal obligations in relation to driving for work, nearly half (45%) of employees surveyed who drive their personal car for work said they have not been given a copy of their employer’s driving for work policy.

It found that managers were not performing checks on grey fleet drivers and 60% of respondents said they were unsure if any or how many employees use their own car to drive for work purposes.

Furthermore, nearly a half of employees who use their personal car for work purposes (45%) said they have not been given a copy of their employer’s driving for work policy.

The survey reveals that 90% of drivers used their personal cars for work journeys, 75% doing so at least once a week, yet a third of these drivers (33%) were not insured to do so – saying they do not have cover for business use on their vehicle insurance. Only a third (34%) said their employer had checked their driving licence.

The survey also found a poor approach to vehicle checks and maintenance by employees. Nearly three quarters of employees who drive for work (74%) said when they check their tyres they simply take a quick glance to see that tyres look ‘OK’.

Simon Turner, campaign manager for Driving for Better Business said: “The report shows a disparity between what employers and employees are saying when driving for work.”

He says senior managers are failing to communicate and implement a robust driving for work policy to keep those who drive for work safe, particularly for the grey fleet.

“Leaders are failing to carry out basic due diligence checks such as ensuring that all employees have a driving licence or vehicle insurance,” he said.

“At the same time, the study highlights employees are putting themselves at risk while driving for work, not checking that vehicles are roadworthy and exhibit reckless behaviours when using their mobile phone.”

He continued: “Leaders must implement a driving for work policy that enforces legal and ethical obligations on all employees that drive on work-related journeys.

“Regular checks need to be put in place to ensure that employees have read and understood the guidelines laid out in the driving for work policy. In doing so, the associated risk to road users and pedestrians is reduced.”

Driving for Better Business promotes a free seven-step programme of action to reduce occupational road risk. Organisations that introduce the DfBB programme have experienced significant operational, financial and employee benefits.

Turner concluded: “A good practice driving for work policy ensures that at a minimum, organisations are compliant with all relevant legislation and guidelines.

Once implemented, these policies complement more general employee safety and wellness programmes as well as introduce efficiencies that reduce costs associated with employees that drive for work purposes.”

DfBB surveyed 1,006 employees and 255 executive directors from the UK. The survey was conducted by Censuswide.

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  • rosco7 - 12/07/2019 08:19

    This is an extremely difficult area for companies to deal with. Ultimately the driver is responsible for how their own vehicle is driven, according to the traffic laws. It is also a risk to have a detailed policy document highlighting lots of rules that the company cannot then monitor for adherence. In a corporate manslaughter case, that same policy could be used to show the company recognised the dangers, but then didn't have adequate controls to ensure compliance. The difficulty in Grey Fleet management, is how do you know an employee is using that car for the business journey on each occasion. Unless they are dispatched from an office (unlikely) the employer wouldn't know. For me, a simple clear policy for grey fleet, and the car needs to be legal, insured for business use and have an MOT. i.e. Nothing other than the rules for all vehicles. As for mobile phone use, why should a company impose a greater restriction than is recognised by the law. In that using a hands free mobile phone is legal, unless it has impacted your driving. I suggest simply copy and paste the traffic law into the policy. It would be much better if the government legislated to ban the use of mobile phones, hand free included, then at least it would be consistent. A better policy is to people calling, to tell them to terminate a call with a driver who is clearly driving and ask them to return the call as soon as they can safely do so.

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