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Half of grey fleet drivers skipping basic safety checks

More than half (54%) of grey fleet drivers aren’t conducting basic safety and maintenance checks and are potentially using a vehicle not legally safe to drive for business travel, according to new research.

30% of respondents admitted not checking oil levels

The survey of 1,000 UK drivers, 44% of whom use their own cars for business journeys, showed that safety lapses include not checking the tyre tread (32%) or tyre pressure (27%), oil levels (30%), or even if the headlights (32%) or the brake lights are working (35%). In fact, more than one in four (28%) grey fleet drivers surveyed admitted they have never even opened the bonnet.

The research, published by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, also found that around one in five (19%) drivers say they currently have a warning light showing and don’t plan to have it checked.

The survey also revealed that more than half of grey fleet drivers (57%) chose to defer their MOT due to Covid-19 and 6% said their vehicle only gets checked at the annual MOT or service. The average age of vehicles in the survey was four years nine months, indicating that a high proportion of those cars currently require an MOT.

As a result of vehicle issues, many (32%) admit that they have been late to a business meeting – or even missed one entirely – because their vehicle needed to be repaired.

With the pandemic already having seen a rise in employees using their own car for business – as well as more journeys being classed as a business trip as the home becomes the new main place of work – Enterprise is advising businesses of all sizes to review their employee travel plans to address grey fleet safety issues.

Paul McCorkell, assistant vice president of business mobility for the UK and Ireland at Enterprise, said: “The grey fleet is shaping into a bigger challenge for employers than perhaps it’s ever been before. With more people working from home, and data showing that used car demand and prices are both heading upwards post-lockdown, many employees may now plan to buy a second-hand car and use it for business travel.

“Failure to carry out basic safety checks on those vehicles can mean missed meetings – or it could lead to a road accident where the employer may be liable. That’s why more organisations should be looking into providing alternative transport options, such as rental and car clubs, where they can be certain every vehicle is always properly maintained and fit for purpose.”

Enterprise, which has developed its own Enterprise Travel Direct (ETD) platform to enforce the employee travel policy, added that at the very least, employers should have a means in place to track how employees use their own cars for work trips, and a way for drivers to confirm that they’ve checked their vehicle and it’s suitable for the road.

McCorkell added: “That way they can get a sense of the scale of the problem and offer employees a solution even though they have so many other priorities right now.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006.