Service, maintenance and repair (SMR) expert Prestige Fleet Servicing is urging managers to monitor their grey fleets more closely for evidence of up-to-date servicing. This follows recent news that a third of motorists will give servicing their vehicle a miss this year in a bid to claw back funds as a result of the current cost-of-living crisis.
Research by The Motor Ombudsman has revealed that 33% of motorists are considering missing a service altogether in 2022, while 23% say they are planning to delay their annual service.
Grey fleet vehicles – vehicles owned by employers rather than businesses but used for business travel – have been steadily rising in volume post-pandemic. There are now roughly 14 million grey fleet vehicles on UK roads. However, this growing grey fleet reliance leaves businesses at a higher risk of mechanical failure, costly periods of business downtime and even corporate manslaughter if drivers are failing to maintain their vehicles adequately, says Penny Stoolman, managing director, Prestige Fleet Servicing.
“Missing a service is, as many fleet managers are all too aware, a false economy. SMR delays incur a higher risk of VOR (vehicle off-road) time due to the unplanned repair and servicing of vehicles, which is already costing fleets an estimated £2.4 billion each year,” explains Stoolman. “Unanticipated mechanical failures, particularly from older vehicles – the older vehicles many of us are being forced to hold on to because of supply chain issues – can put a serious dent in business profits when it comes to downtime.”
The failure to adequately maintain a vehicle used for grey fleet travel could also leave employers widely exposed under the Corporate Manslaughter Act, Stoolman continues. “Employers are responsible for ensuring a vehicle used for business is adequately maintained and safe, even if they don’t own it.”
However, there are a number of key actions you can take to minimise VOR time and better manage both the risks and costs of your grey fleet. “Employers should keep track of the vehicles used by employees for business travel, delegating this task to the person who is in charge of managing your business’ grey fleet,” Stoolman concludes.
“Recent evidence should be sought annually of insurance details, including proof of business cover, vehicle maintenance checks, road tax validity and evidence of recent servicing. A proactive approach on this front can yield dividends, including fewer working days lost to mechanical failure, a reduction in fuel consumption (as roadworthy vehicles are more fuel efficient) and a lower administrative burden due to mitigating the risk of investigation in the event of an incident and legal action.”