What is a grey fleet?

RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) define the grey fleet as:

“Individuals who drive their own vehicles for work purposes”

As a manager or business owner, your grey fleet is made up of any vehicles used within your business which are owned by the driver or operator and not by the business.

Grey fleet vehicles make up a significant proportion of the vehicles used for business in the UK, according to the BVRLA (British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association )’s grey fleet report, each year the UK is host to 14 million grey fleet vehicles, travelling a total of 12 billion miles and costing employers around £5.5 billion.

Why do you need to consider the safety of your grey fleet at all?

It may seem that they grey fleet is no concern of the business: if you don’t own the vehicles, are you responsible for them?

The answer, of course, is that you are.

While you may not own the vehicle if it is being used to undertake work for your business the safety of those operating that vehicle is absolutely your concern. Brake, the road safety charity, noted in their report in grey fleet management that:

“Organisations should take a proactive approach to road safety for moral, financial, environmental and legal reasons, but many employers apply less stringent regulations to grey fleet vehicles, failing to manage the safety of these vehicles or the safety standards of their drivers”

Managing a grey fleet

The key difference between a grey fleet and a traditional fleet of vehicles, then, is in ownership.

Traditionally, employers would own a fleet of vehicles for employees to drive as they go about their jobs. The lines of responsibility were clear and obvious: They employer owned the vehicles and was responsible for the maintenance and safety of the vehicle at all times.

In recent times though, there has been a move towards a different model of ownership, with employees opting to take a cash allowance and/or fuel expenses towards their personal vehicle, and use that in their day-to-day job role instead.

Though at first glance, it may seem that this moves the onus for safety and maintenance solely onto the employee, that is not the case.

Grey fleets and the law

As pointed out by the ORSA (Occupational Road Safety Alliance),  There are two key sets of UK laws around work-related road safety:

  1. Health and Safety law – “The duties of employers to establish safe systems of work”
  2. Road Traffic Law – “Individual driver behaviour and the vehicle owner”

Additionally, HSE’s Driving at Work guidance asks the question:

“Do you ensure privately owned vehicles are not used for work purposes unless they are serviced in line with manufacturers’ recommendations, insured for business use and, where the vehicle is over three years old, have a valid MOT certificate?”

What does this mean for employers? This indicates that the safety of vehicles used for work is the responsibility of the employer, as well as of the employee – regardless of who actually owns the vehicle.

What safety concerns do you need to consider for grey fleets?

While there are many benefits of operating a grey fleet, both for employers (while the employer does still have some responsibility over the vehicle, it is true that some of the costs and liabilities associated with owning and operating a fleet of vehicles are removed in a grey fleet situation) and for employees (as they are able to have control over their vehicle, to have some of the costs of owning a personal vehicle (which they would likely do, regardless of whether they also operated a fleet vehicle) offset with allowances and/or expenses), in some respects it can actually make the safety responsibility of employers more complex.

Because employers have less control over things like the total mileage of the vehicle, the age and general condition of the vehicle or the level of insurance coverage over the vehicle, yet they still have an overall responsibility for health and safety of their employees, maintaining safety standards can prove tricky.

There are though, a number of processes that employers can put in place to manage the safety of the vehicles owned and used by their employees. From requiring certain standards for employee vehicles used at work, to implementing an in-depth grey fleet policy.

One simple solution to combat worries around inspections and maintenance of personal vehicles used for work purposes is to implement a system like Stream Check, which can be used to track and monitor inspections, maintenance and defect resolution, whether or not the fleet is owned by the organisation.

Schedule a demo to learn more about using Stream Check to manage and maintain grey fleet vehicles.

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