An alarming number of fleet managers, such as those running minicab companies, are risking prosecution by not fulfilling their duty of care with their grey fleet drivers.
Lex Autolease claims in its annual report on UK motoring that there may be as many as 14 million grey fleet drivers; but when it comes to the management, 27% never check that the driver has a valid MOT and 18% failed to physically check driving licenses (although the new online system will change this) and 13% do not check that their drivers are insured to drive on business.
Legal ramifications relating to health and safety legislation, as well as the possibility of corporate manslaughter need to be taken very seriously by fleet managers – both are more than feasible if an under-checked employee is involved in a serious road accident.
While around 70% of fleet managers said they were aware of the legislation (moreso in larger fleets) the report suggests that around 20% were either not fully aware or completely ignorant of it.
22% of fleet managers told researchers that they believed these drivers posed “no serious risk” to the company while 17% said that complying to the letter of the law was “disproportionately expensive when compared with the risk.”
A grey fleet driver could move house, fail to notify the DVLA and drive through a speed camera, resulting in minor speeding offence.
A notice of intended prosecution is then sent to his ‘home’ address, but he fails to respond within 28 days. The DVLA write to him at the former address informing him of the penalty point endorsement; he doesn’t receive it or know about it.
Around this time he renews his insurance and claims he has zero penalty points. Soon after he is involved in a collision whilst driving for work and there is a fatality.
His insurance is invalid as he ‘misled’ the insurance company regarding the penalty points.
His employer is now at risk of prosecution and would be expected to show it had complied to the best of its ability with the law and fulfilled its duty of care obligations.
In this new, paperless age, companies must keep even more meticulous records of drivers and their vehicles, particularly in the grey fleet.