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Grey fleet problem accelerated by pandemic, Trakm8 finds

Date: 10 August 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Businesses need to respond to increased exposure to grey fleet issues as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Trakm8.

The telematics company has produced a new report, 'Grey Fleet on the Rise', having surveyed UK businesses with fleet sizes ranging from 10 to 100+ vehicles about the issue.

The report, produced with support from the Association of Fleet Professionals, has revealed that 30% of businesses have been moderately or significantly impacted by grey fleet issues in the past 18 months, with 58% of fleets being managed by non-fleet professionals. 

More worryingly, Trakm8 says, 18% of businesses don't know how many grey fleet vehicles they have in their fleet, while 14% do not know who grey fleet management responsibility lies with, meaning the issue could be far worse than first imagined.

According to the report, businesses that operate effective grey fleet management processes generally spread the responsibility among various departments, particularly HR, accounting, and health and safety.

The report states: "Engaging with senior members of the business in developing the overall grey fleet strategy ensures employers are considering their duty of care obligations, which are not limited to just company car drivers.

"This means fully understanding their own responsibilities, communicating clearly what is required of grey fleet drivers, and having the right systems in place to ensure these requirements are met.

"For example, although important areas of focus for company car vehicles include roadworthiness, driving standards and insurance cover, these are generally overlooked for personal vehicles, highlighting just how important it is that duty of care responsibilities are upheld and enforced for grey fleet drivers."

The report points out that failure to uphold these duty of care responsibilities can have serious consequences.

It states: "When dealing with a business road accident, employers need to be able to demonstrate that they have put reasonable measures in place to protect the wellbeing of their employees, including grey fleet drivers.

"The penalties for not doing so include significant fines and even custodial sentences for management failures."

The report warns there are also potential issues around training, with 44% of businesses with grey fleet requirements not including specific training when onboarding a new member of staff, and 50% not offering ongoing driver training opportunities for employees using grey fleet vehicles.

The report states: "Businesses that operate the most successful grey fleet provision are those that make it an integral part of training for new and existing staff. 

"Ideally, if a new starter is expected to drive their own vehicle for work purposes, expectations, processes and responsibilities - both for business and employee - should be laid out during the induction process.

"Some businesses also include guidelines regarding grey fleet vehicle usage in key company literature, such as new starter handbooks or driving for work policies."

In more positive news, 29% of the organisations surveyed by Trakm8 said they saw the implementation of effective grey fleet protocols as a high priority issue, while a further 37% saw it as having at least moderate importance.

The report states: "It is clear that UK fleet operators believe the shift towards the grey fleet is now irreversible - and should be viewed as a more urgent priority.

"Indeed, of those surveyed, nearly half (48%) believe grey fleet should be a higher priority for British businesses."

According to Trakm8, respondents to its survey identified four clear areas likely to have a big effect on grey fleet take-up post pandemic - hybrid working, financial constraints, sustainability legislation, and most importantly clean air zones.

The report explains: "While some businesses have committed to full or partial electrification of their fleet in recent years, it is much harder to ensure compliance with clean air zones when employees are using their own vehicles.

"That's why a clear driving for work policy is critical to ensure drivers - and businesses - aren't left open to costly repercussions."

Commenting with the release of the report, Trakm8 marketing director Jim Hill said: "The statistics revealed in our report are very concerning and highlight the fact that more education is needed on the risks grey fleet brings and the measures businesses can put in place to help mitigate them. 

"It is clear that grey fleet issues have been accelerated due to the impact of the pandemic and it is imperative that businesses address this issue quickly, particularly as hybrid working becomes the norm."