Following the global coronavirus pandemic and the current difficulty in finding replacement vehicles, perhaps it’s not surprising that fleet managers are failing to cover all bases.
But new research from leasing company Alphabet has found that one in three fleet managers has little to no knowledge of corporate duty of care obligations for employees driving company vehicles.
Fewer than half (45%) considered themselves very knowledgeable on the topic and while most conducted regular driver risk policy reviews (81%), there were still some companies that either had no driver risk policy in place or had failed to review their policy in the last 12 months.
All enterprises in the UK are obliged to manage health and safety in the workplace and ensure they have policies and procedures to reduce work-related risk to both employees and the public. When traveling for business, vehicles are considered a place of work and must be well-maintained, taxed, insured, hold a current MOT, and be ‘fit for purpose’.
Businesses are also required to ensure regular driving license checks, risk assessments, and driver risk training. Failure to keep adequate records of risk management oversight can have significant legal, financial, and reputational consequences. The appropriate laws are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974; the Road Traffic Act 1988; and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
This corporate requirement also extends to private vehicles used on business - labeled the ‘grey fleet’. Alphabet’s Gavin Davies - general manager, customer account management - commented:
“If a business requires its employees to use vehicles for work, it’s critical fleet managers, drivers, and the wider organization, understand and mitigate the risks associated with occupational driving.
Driver risk must be correctly managed to ensure duty of care and legal obligations are met.
“However, our research shows there are some vital gaps when it comes to understanding and meeting duty of care responsibilities when employees are driving on company business. Far too many employers are still unaware that they retain responsibility for their employees’ safety and conduct when they’re traveling for work purposes, even if they’re using their own car.
“It’s clear fleet managers need to prioritize risk management, whether that’s seeking external advice or bringing in an experienced partner to manage the full process for them. A robust and proactive driver risk strategy will not only help businesses better understand and manage potential risk, it can also reduce fleet running costs and downtime.”
Recently fleet managers were warned to ensure drivers were aware of the new Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving law. Drivers can face a one year license suspension if found guilty.