Research has found that many business travellers across Ireland who drive their own cars for work, the so-called ‘grey fleet’, do not always carry out basic safety checks on their vehicles. This, and a range of other findings from the survey, should be of key concern to employers as there are legal responsibilities on employers whose employees use their own cars for work-related travel.
The research which was carried out by Enterprise Rent-A-Car found that 58 percent of grey fleet drivers do not undertake any regular maintenance checks themselves on their cars. When asked why they didn’t, nearly a third (32 percent) said that they expected ‘the car to tell them if something was wrong’ and 27 percent said ‘that’s what car services and the NCT are for’. One in six (17%) simply expected modern cars to work.
Even more (39 percent) have never checked their tyre tread, almost a third (31 percent) have not looked at engine oil levels and some 35 percent have never checked if their brake lights are working. Almost a third (32 percent) admit they have never even opened the car bonnet.
George O’Connor, Managing Director of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland, comments: “It is a common practice for businesses in Ireland to allow employees to use their own cars for work journeys. However, our research indicates that many drivers are not always checking their vehicles before a work-related trip. It’s very likely that this is something that companies are simply not aware of, and equally, they may not be aware of some of the implications for themselves should the driver be involved in an accident due to lack of vehicle maintenance.
“We would advise all businesses with employees that drive their own vehicles for work to ensure their travel and transport policies cover areas such as vehicle maintenance and routine checks for personal vehicles used for work-related travel. Developing a travel policy is an area where we often work with our business customers, not least because this is our day to day work.
“It may also make sense to provide employees with other travel options when they are planning a trip, such as pool cars, rental car vehicles, car clubs or advice on the availability of public transport, especially where it may be difficult to monitor how privately owned vehicles are maintained. These options can be more cost-effective than the grey fleet and employees often welcome not having to use their own vehicle for business.”
The research also revealed that many grey fleet drivers in Ireland are unsure if the car they use for work contains vital safety equipment. Nearly a half (47 percent) don’t know if they have a warning triangle, 37 percent don’t know if they have a jack and 51 percent are uncertain if their car holds a high-visibility vest or jacket. While not mandatory in Ireland, road safety organisations recommend motorists should ensure they have these basic safety items in their car. A third of grey fleet drivers (33 percent) don’t currently know if their car has a usable spare tyre.
The survey also looked at how grey fleet drivers behave when they’re preparing for a trip of 150 km or more. It revealed that 42 percent don’t check that they have enough fuel and more than half (51 percent) don’t do any basic safety checks on their vehicle. In addition, almost two-thirds (63 percent) don’t plan for breaks at least every two hours, even though road safety organisations agree that regular breaks on long trips are vital to maintain driver focus and concentration.
George O’Connor continues: “This research highlights that many personal vehicles aren’t always equipped for work-related travel and that employees don’t necessarily have the right equipment in the car if they break down. Staff may need a reminder before they set off on a trip of what they need to take in their vehicle especially if they drive abroad where the requirements may be different. In some cases, companies may wish to consider if it’s appropriate to help with the cost of these items not least as they may be stopped and fined by the police on the highway. Again, this is an area that can be addressed by a travel policy designed to cover the grey fleet.”