Estimates suggest that around 12 billion business miles are driven each year in grey-fleet vehicles1. Because these vehicles are not owned or leased by companies however, many may regard their management to be a tricky area.
Grey fleet management is a matter that businesses can ill-afford to neglect. Employers, as far as is reasonably practicable, have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all employees while at work. They have a duty of care to their drivers, regardless of vehicle ownership.
Furthermore, the financial case for effective managing grey fleet risk is clear – from reduced downtime, sick pay, staff replacement and maintenance costs to improved reputation and business performance.
In the blog post below we share eight top tips to help businesses manage grey fleet risk.
- Decide who is responsible
The grey fleet can be overlooked if responsibility for it is not clearly assigned to an individual within an organisation.
While it may fall under the authority of a fleet manager, an HR or health and safety manager who has a wider organisational influence may be a more appropriate option.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has advised companies to integrate work-related road safety into their wider health and safety at work arrangements2 and we would suggest that an HR or health and safety manager may be better placed to oversee this and implement risk management programmes.
- Establish a grey fleet policy
Grey fleet responsibility can be reinforced by a formal policy, which may also detail everything from high-level corporate goals to an employee’s code of conduct.
Expectations of all employees making work-related journeys can be laid out in a driver safety handbook, and every effort should be made to ensure these expectations are well communicated.
A signed declaration can offer assurance that employees have read and understood a policy. Furthermore, if it is possible to link policies and procedures to employment contracts, they may be more effectively enforced.
- Assess the risk
Companies would be wise to ensure they have a good understanding of the different risk elements facing their grey fleet. With a wealth of potential data available to help identify them, and understand their causes, companies need not look to tackle the problem blind.
Corporate KPIs such as mobile worker response times, for example, might reveal organisational risks. Information on the vehicle being driven might highlight worrying safety deficiencies. Telematics statistics meanwhile, or data from an insurer or accident management provider, may offer insights into the propensity and root causes of collisions.
Although telematics systems may not be as prevalent among grey fleets as they are with company owned or leased vehicles, the benefits to all stakeholders of such a deployment can be many.
While telematics can help businesses manage risk, cut costs, boost productivity and customer service, drivers may see a reduction in time spent on labour-intensive process such as mileage claim administration or even a reduction in their insurance premiums.
- Ensure fitness to drive
Everything organisations do to ensure the fitness of employees to drive owned or leased vehicles should also be applied to a grey fleet.
The HSE advises that an individual’s fitness to drive is judged by employers on a case-by-case basis3.
It also advises that drivers are reminded they must satisfy the eyesight and other health requirements of the Highway Code and DVLA, that they should not drive while taking medicine that might impair their judgement and are reminded of how dangerous tiredness can be4.
Detailed advice on medical standards of fitness to drive have been published by the Drivers Medical Unit of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). This guidance includes conditions that must be reported to the DVLA. The HSE recommends that companies encourage drivers to report any health concerns.
- Check driving documentation
The HSE recommends that companies check the validity of driving licences on recruitment and periodically afterwards5. With drivers’ permission, licence checks can be made directly with the DVLA to determine eligibility, history, and endorsements. It is advisable that drivers who have a high-risk profile, and might consequently have a higher risk of losing their licence, are checked more frequently.
Grey fleet drivers should satisfy employers that their motor insurance covers them for ‘business use’. MOT certificates for vehicles that are over three years old should also be checked on all non-company vehicles.
- Conduct driver risk assessments
Regular risk assessments should be carried out on all grey fleet drivers.
Drivers can be risk scored based on several factors such as their annual mileage, number of endorsements and driving incidents, their driver training history etc.
Telematics data can play a big role in the creation of risk profiles for drivers, informing organisations how they are performing behind the wheel, how often they are speeding and whether they are accelerating, cornering or braking too harshly. This might allow driver training to be more effectively targeted to address specific areas of concern. Moreover, improvements can be tracked over time.
- Manage driving hours and fatigue
Driver journeys should be managed effectively with employees warned of the dangers of fatigue behind the wheel. Telematics technology can help companies monitor hours spent driving for business in grey fleet vehicles, and help managers to enforce policies of regular breaks to help prevent fatigue-related accidents.
A road safety policy for grey fleet drivers can stipulate company rules for driving hour, reminding employees of The Highway Code recommendation that drivers should take a 15-minute break every two hours.
If employees drive a goods vehicle or a passenger-carrying vehicle they must follow the rules on how many hours they can drive and the breaks they need to take6. Official guidance can be found here.
- Ensure vehicle safety
The privately-owned vehicles used by grey fleet drivers may be old and poorly maintained.
Companies would be advised to ensure the vehicles are fit for purpose and that they meet minimum safety standards. A minimum vehicle age and mileage might be stipulate, for example, along with a minimum Euro NCAP rating and safety systems, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Antilock Braking Systems (ABS).
Grey fleet vehicles should also be maintained to minimum standards.
Maintenance records from approved garages should be checked on a regular basis. In addition, drivers can be encouraged through regular company communications to conduct regular vehicle safety checks, including tyre tread and pressures, brakes, lights and indicators, oil, windscreen washers and wipers.
For more information about how telematics data can be used to help manage fleet risk, see the selection of guides and whitepapers in our Knowledge and Insights Centre.