Missing the bigger picture with grey fleets


Grey fleets, for many companies, can be a fantastic model for employee transportation. With all vehicles owned by the drivers, you are able to save significant costs in overhead by not managing the procurement, maintenance and servicing, and defleeting processes associated with company fleets. 

Are your Grey Fleets a ‘grey area’ for health and safety?

Grey fleets, for many companies, can be a fantastic model for employee transportation. With all vehicles owned by the drivers, you are able to save significant costs in overhead by not managing the procurement, maintenance and servicing, and defleeting processes associated with company fleets.

Grey fleeting is becoming increasingly popular as the laws and regulations around vehicle safety tighten, ensuring that as many people as possible operate in a safe working environment. This gives the company a new level of peace of mind regarding the vehicles their employees are driving. However, without having control and visibility over their fleet, large gaps in health and safety exist.

In traditional fleets, managers have a complete view of registrations, servicing, incidents and infringements history, and driver information. Whereas managers of grey fleets get to see a very limited picture of their fleet.

The lack of control over safety standards for the workplace is a priority concern for fleet managers. In Australia, the work vehicle is legally considered to be a part of the workplace and for grey fleets this means that while the vehicle is in use for work purposes, it is considered to be an extension of the workplace.

This means expectations are placed around the health and safety standards of the vehicles. While this is a relatively straightforward process for company owned vehicles, it can prove increasingly difficult for grey fleets where there is limited control over the vehicles in the fleet.

Newer model vehicles have a lot more built-in safety features such as autonomous emergency breaking or lane departure warnings, giving more assurance of the general level of safety than older vehicles where such features don’t come as standard.

Duty of care is becoming an increasingly large discussion point for fleet managers with more emphasis being placed on it by governments. For fleet managers there are two sides to the matter.

1)      The duty of care in relation to the vehicles, acquiring good quality vehicles and maintaining them to a high standard, as well as duty of care in relation to the drivers, ensuring they are aware where responsibility lies and also are provided with a safe working environment.

2)      The duty of care towards the drivers includes ensuring that they are provided with the skills and knowledge to be safe behind the wheel. This is where it becomes important for driver behaviour to be monitored and maintained.

For company owned fleets, it is more of a straightforward process to track incidents, infringements and patterns. For companies with grey fleets, this can be almost impossible to track. Infringements never come through the fleet manager and damage is only recorded if reported by the driver.

Therefore points against driver licences are never tracked and no patterns of at-risk drivers emerge. The ability to identify at-risk and excellent drivers allows for interventions and rewards to be put into place accordingly, enforcing an expected standard of behaviour and providing a platform for conveying the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the duty of care.

For fleet managers to gain the control necessary over their grey fleets, a number of steps need to be taken at a number of different touch points in the process.

  • Policies – Policy is the starting point of all fleet activity with identification of who the fleet sits with, who requires vehicles and the standards around the fleet. By implementing policies around the type of vehicles, licencing and servicing requirements and incident reporting responsibilities, you are able to set out expectations from the get go and facilitate a solid base for processes to be built on.
  • Processes – Most of the time, a lack of control and visibility over a fleet doesn’t come down to processes not being followed. Instead, it comes down to a combination of insufficient processes and a lack of communication around them. If the wrong processes or incomplete processes are in place and then not communicated to employees, then you lose all control and visibility. Implementing processes around vehicle checks, incident reporting and kilometre reimbursement and then ensuring they are properly communicated to all relevant employees, will increase the level of control and visibility over the fleet.
  • Systems – The best processes will only get you so far, having good systems behind them will make them as effective as they can be. As much automation and simplicity as possibly in a system will ensure that they are getting used as much as possible.

While grey fleets can be a good cost saving initiative for your organisation, it can be very difficult to manage health and safety standards throughout them. But with targeted policies, regimented processes and an effective, integrated system in place, you can gain full control and visibility over your fleet.

For more information on the issues affecting managers of grey fleets and ways in which you can overcome these, read our white paper “Taking grey fleets out of the grey area”.

Jonathan Wells is Owner and Director of Netresult Mobility who specialise in vehicle management software.

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