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Fleetcheck launches free back-to-work app

Date: 28 July 2020   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Fleet management specialist adds a 'back to work' section to its existing app to help companies and drivers hit the road after lockdown - and it's free for the rest of the year. Jack Carfrae reports.

Management and software specialist Fleetcheck has added a 'back to work' function to its existing smartphone app, designed to help businesses and employees resume the use of vehicles in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Free to use for the rest of 2020, the app includes a series of new features such as safety checks for mothballed vehicles, a sanitisation checklist, 'fit to drive' declaration for employees that includes Covid-19 symptoms, and an accompanying online management portal that can be accessed from other devices. 

The vehicle check function allows drivers to perform and file inspections and submit photographs of defects or damage without handling physical paperwork, and the app can automatically schedule future check-ups. It also includes driver support information for fleet managers and a series of push notifications to reinforce safety messages and driving-for-work policies.  

Managing director Peter Golding described it as "a tool kit [and] a risk assessment template to help companies work out what they should be doing to return their vehicles to the road. It's the sort of key areas that companies need to think about when they may have had a dormant fleet - the education of drivers, making sure that they reinstate MOTs, road tax, insurance, fees and toll charges - things like that.

"It is not just about the inspection; it is actually providing a comprehensive way of dealing with post-Covid, getting rid of paper and improving communications. The driver can now confirm that they've read and completed their policy statements, and you've got an instant audit track on that. This can be very important when you're having to change sanitisation issues, hygiene, movement of vehicles, goods, whatever - all of that's got to be communicated to drivers."

Existing customers who already use the firm's software and Fleetcheck Driver app should already have received the new section via an update. Non-customers can download the app and management portal via the Driving for Better Business website  

The initiative was developed with Mercedes, Highways England and Driving for Better Business and, according to Golding, is partly a response to a predicted rise in grey fleet usage. 

"It's something that's a by-product of Covid, but we are going to see a marked increase in grey fleet, mainly because, if people are electing to not use public transport, it's more than likely that they will start to use their own vehicle," he said. "I think it's also highly likely a lot of people who've enjoyed working from home may say, 'please can I be based from home?' And, of course, if they are visiting the office, that journey then becomes a business journey."

Golding's comments are supported by government figures on transport during the pandemic. As of 6 July, the Department for Transport showed that car and van usage had respectively reached 79% and 92% of a typical week, compared to 13% (provisional) for National Rail services, 19% for the London Underground, 37% for London buses, and 29% for non-London buses. 

Fleetcheck reported what it described as "an explosion" in checks conducted via its paid-for Vehicle Inspection app during lockdown, as users increasingly sought to operate remotely and avoid physical paperwork. The app was introduced in April 2017 and processed its two-millionth check in early 2020, but that rose to three million in late March and the firm claimed it had seen almost 200,000 individual checks some weeks.

"Again, post-Covid, where you don't want drivers moving pieces of paper around, we're seeing companies accepting the fact that almost every driver is now walking around with a computer in their hand," added Golding. "They're able to get far greater information from the drivers by doing safety inspections and things like that through their phone than relying on bits of paper being circulated to the office." 

Users will be charged for the service from 2021, but Golding said issuing it for free was "to do something to genuinely help. Yes, at the end of this year, if they want to carry on with it then they are going to have to pay for it, but rather than have it for a month or two, we just said, 'tell you what, have it for the rest of the year' and then we'll know what's going on."