Updated research carried out by Total Motion Vehicle Management has led to a belief that employers are running the risk of costly compliance issues, by not taking the safety and maintenance of grey fleet as seriously as they do company cars.
There are an estimated 14million grey fleet vehicles on UK roads, but recently updated research findings suggest this huge number of vehicles is not reflected in focused attention on safety and maintenance.
What is Grey Fleet?
‘Grey fleet’ refers to vehicles owned and driven by employees of a business for business purposes. Usually, a driver will be reimbursed for fuel usage for business journeys and this cash allowance or fuel expense qualifies the vehicle as being under the responsibility of the employer as ‘grey fleet’. Therefore the vehicle has to be considered alongside other fleet vehicles owned, leased or hired by the business in terms of management, safety and maintenance.
What are an employer’s responsibilities with regards to grey fleet?
Fundamentally, employers owe the same duty of care under law to employees who drive their own vehicles for work, ie. 'grey fleet', as they do to employees who drive company-owned, leased or hired vehicles. Under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, companies can be prosecuted for the death of drivers who were involved in work-related journeys. There is also a liability relating to non-fatal accidents.
Personal vehicles/grey fleet are often older and in poorer condition than company vehicles, so general maintenance is often harder to manage, but a fleet manager must implement the same care and maintenance procedures for grey fleet as they do for company cars. In essence, a key element of an employer’s duty of care is to ensure that all vehicles, whether company-owned or privately owned, are safe to drive at all times.
What research did Total Motion carry out?
As fleet management specialists, Total Motion conducted an extensive Survey in 2007 based on our Vehicle Monitoring service. This revealed that company car and grey fleet drivers were, generally-speaking, starting to adhere to their responsibilities with regards to vehicle maintenance. However, an updated survey in 2021 suggests that is no longer the case, and actually, more company cars and grey fleet vehicles are failing to meet their minimum safety requirements.
What have the updated vehicle survey results in 2021 uncovered?
Both the surveys conducted in 2007 and 2021 focused on key maintenance aspects of a vehicle. These included tyres, lights, brakes, MOT and service, maintenance and repair history. It is a legal requirement to ensure all cars and vans are roadworthy, and remember that employers have equal responsibility for both company cars and grey fleet. However, the survey shows that many drivers are failing their obligations when using either a company car or a grey fleet vehicle.
Of the 203,137 new checks completed on company cars / vans and grey fleet vehicles, a staggering 35,420 (17%) were found to have tyres that were either illegal, damaged or were outside the manufacturer’s guidelines. In addition, the survey found that 13,659 (7%) had an incomplete service, maintenance and repair history.
How do these figures show that employers are failing in their duties with grey fleet vehicles?
There is a stark difference between the failure rate of company cars and grey fleet, with the figures suggesting company cars are being better maintained overall, making them an all-round safer option.
With brakes, 0.38% of company cars tested in 2021 did not meet manufacturers’ or recognised standards, while with grey fleet this increased to 1.77%. With lights, 0.47% of company cars had a fault with one or more lights or bulbs, compared to 1.75% with grey fleet. And finally, with tyres, 14.24% of company cars had tyres which were either illegal, damaged or outside the manufacturers’ guidelines, and this increased to 22% for grey fleet.
This data suggests that businesses and grey fleet drivers may not be aware of the full extent of their responsibilities to maintain the vehicle they manage and drive.
What can drivers do to look after their grey fleet cars better?
The latest survey results highlight the importance of regular vehicle monitoring and vehicle checks. Drivers need to be doing vehicle checks on tyres, water, oil, lights, wipers, brakes and other vehicle features at least weekly to ensure their vehicle is safe.
What should employers be doing to improve their compliance with grey fleet?
Regardless of the age or status of vehicles (company cars are usually leased and therefore are typically newer than grey fleet) every vehicle should be managed with the same focus and procedural attention with regards to maintenance and upkeep. Ideally, grey fleet should be afforded additional attention as these are vehicles that are typically older, have a service history the business has less knowledge of and are subject to driving behaviour outside business usage that the business can’t control.
It is absolutely the company’s responsibility to ensure that drivers check their cars on a regular basis. This should be adopted into formal procedures which are routinely monitored and checked internally by the fleet management function. The employer has the same responsibilities for making sure the vehicle is safe and roadworthy, regardless of ownership, and ultimately, these comprehensive survey findings show that grey fleet needs to be taken more seriously by employers, because they run the risk of severe compliance issues if not.
For help and advice with managing your grey fleet, contact us today.