Wednesday 18 September 2019

Alert for companies as 'grey fleet' drivers neglect safety checks

Research finds 58pc don't bother; employers warned of legal risks

Many drivers don't bother to check their engine oil levels
Many drivers don't bother to check their engine oil levels
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Companies have been put on alert that many of their employees are neglecting to check basic items on the cars they use in the course of their work.

This could have serious implications for employers in the event of an accident or breakdown.

New research has found startling evidence that many drivers in the so-called 'grey fleet' (they drive their own cars as part of their work) never bother with the simplest of checks.

These include brake lights, oil levels and tyres. One third don't even know if they have a spare tyre.

Nearly three-in-five (58pc) grey fleet drivers do not undertake any regular maintenance checks themselves - 32pc admitted they had never lifted their car's bonnet.

The research, by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, says the findings should be of "key concern to employers" as they could have legal responsibilities to employees who use their own cars for work-related travel.

Our Road Safety Authority expert, writing in Motors some time back, warned: "While it is an employer's legal responsibility to manage any risks in the course of work, a study by the RSA, HSA and Garda shows that two in three businesses do not provide road-safety information to employees who drive as part of their job.

"Half the businesses surveyed had no policies or procedures. It is vital that businesses understand the importance of providing information. It's also the law."

However, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car research would seem to suggest the message isn't getting through.

Its findings show how 32pc "expected the car to tell them if something was wrong". More than a quarter (27pc) said: "That's what car services and the NCT are for." And 17pc said they just expected modern cars to work.

Among the standout figures were the 39pc who never checked their tyre tread nor looked at engine oil levels (31pc) and the 35pc who never bothered to see if their brake lights were working.

Many drivers (47pc) were unsure if their work-related car had a warning triangle; 37pc didn't know if they had a car-jack, or a hi-viz vest/jacket (51pc).

It gets worse. When preparing for a trip of 150km or more, 42pc don't check on fuel levels and - again - 51pc don't carry out any basic safety checks. Nearly two thirds (63pc) don't plan for breaks every two hours, as safety organisations advise.

George O'Connor, managing director Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland, says it is likely most companies are unaware so many drivers fail to check their vehicles before a work-related trip.

"Equally they may not be aware of some implications for themselves should the driver be involved in an accident due to lack of vehicle maintenance," he adds.

He urged those with grey fleet employees to ensure their travel and transport policies cover areas "such as maintenance and routine checks".

Based on the research underlining how many personal vehicles are not always equipped for work-related travel, he said it might make sense to provide employees with other options, such as pool cars, rental vehicles and available public transport. That strategy could be relevant where a company finds it difficult to monitor how privately owned vehicles are maintained.

Mr O'Connor also suggests staff may need a reminder of what they need to have in the car, especially if driving abroad.

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