There is a real lack of awareness amongst company directors regarding their responsibilities for the operation of the grey fleet, according to new research by the government-backed Driving for Better Business (DfBB) campaign.
Company directors have a legal responsibility to ensure their organisation operates compliantly within current legislation and guidance concerning privately owned cars that are used on company business.
However, the DfBB research found that 60% of directors surveyed did not know whether any of their staff used their own vehicles for work journeys or, if they did, how many there were.
And more than half (53%) of the directors did not actually believe a grey fleet driver was the company’s responsibility at all, with only 38% of directors saying their company routinely checked that their grey fleet drivers had insurance cover for business use.
DfBB is a government-backed programme designed to help employers reduce work-related road risk, decrease the associated costs and improve compliance with current legislation and guidance.
It interviewed 250 directors and over 1,000 drivers, exploring the underlying attitudes and behaviours in organisations where employees drive their own cars for work-related purposes.
DfBB found that that 90% of those drivers surveyed use their own car for business, with 75% doing so at least once a week.
One positive to come out of the survey was that 75% of directors said they ensured that grey fleet drivers were aware of their obligations and responsibilities while driving for work. However, this statistic failed to stand up when researchers drilled down into specific actions and asked drivers what their employers actually did.
Some 68% of directors said their company shared its Driving for Work policy with its grey fleet drivers. Yet less than half (45%) of those drivers said they had seen it and just over a third (34%) had never had their driving licence checked.
And one in every three grey fleet drivers (33%) confirmed they did not have cover for business use on their motor insurance, meaning they were, effectively, driving on business while uninsured.
The survey also revealed that 47% of drivers had been involved in an incident while driving for work due to heavy traffic and 17% had been involved in an incident while taking a work call from a colleague, typically without the correct insurance cover.
The DfBB said that the fleet and risk management industry, together with operators and business owners, had clearly still got work to do to fully understand the grey fleet phenomenon, including who was affected and what their obligations were.
Mike Manners, managing director at CBVC, said:”Operating a grey fleet does not mitigate duty of care responsibilities and its management can be time consuming and intrusive.
“Companies need to be more aware of their responsibilities to all employees that drive for work, regardless of the vehicle they use. This means fully understanding their own responsibilities, communicating what is required of grey fleet drivers clearly and comprehensively, and having systems in place to ensure these requirements are met.
“It is essential that grey fleet drivers are treated the same as company car drivers. They should receive a copy of the company’s driving for work policy , a driver handbook is also a good idea, and also have their driving licences checked before they are allowed to drive on company business.
“A key part of a grey fleet policy should be that no employee should be allowed to drive on company business without having insurance cover for business use.
“The fact that a third of business drivers in the DfBB study were effectively uninsured needs addressing and the need for business cover must be clearly communicated. Many insurers will include cover for free or a nominal admin charge while some companies will insure the driver on their own policies.
“At CBVC, we provide effective tools to manage your grey fleet online, ensuring that vehicles are insured and covered for business use, are taxed, have valid MOT’s, and your drivers are eligible to drive.
“This provides a clear audit trail in the event of an incident and ensures a company meets its duty of care obligations,” he said..