Any private vehicles not owned or leased by a business or other organisation but used for regular or even occasional ‘at-work’ journeys by their owners come under the definition of grey fleet, including cars leased by staff under their own personal contract hire (PCH) arrangements perhaps by means of cash allowances in lieu of company cars.

Drivers of grey fleet vehicles are typically reimbursed for business journeys on a pence per mile basis by their respective organisations, such payments generally determined either by HMRC’s advisory fuel rates or Approved Mileage Allowance Payment (AMAP) provision, the latter entailing a higher fee of at least 45p per mile, intended to cover not just fuel but also all direct motoring costs such as insurance and servicing.

Grey fleet vehicles: widespread and racking up the miles

Grey fleet is often neglected as a risk by fleet managers, especially in the SME community where the role may be handled part time by personnel from other departments, but statistics show that it’s nevertheless a significant area requiring attention.

Lex Autolease’s Report on Company Motoring 2015 cites the number of UK grey fleet vehicles as 14 million, compared to just 1 million company cars per se, with the BVRLA calculating that 85% or more of grey fleet vehicles are associated with the private sector. In its Getting to Grips with Grey Fleet publication, the organisation places annual ‘at-work’ grey fleet vehicle mileage in the UK at well over 12 billion miles, while the Energy Saving Trust (EST) in conjunction with Sewells, Fleet News’ sister magazine, found in 2010 that a significant 24% of grey fleet vehicles cover over 10,000 miles each year.

DfT data reveals that, during 2016, 24% of all road casualties involved work-related vehicle use, while the Health and Safety Executive estimates costs resulting from at-work RTAs as circa £2.7 billion annually.

Grey fleet vehicles and at-work driving in legal terms

These figures are all the more humbling in light of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 and the Health & Safety (Offenses) Act 2008 clearly recognising ad hoc journeys in grey fleet vehicles as an ‘at work’ activity coming under corporate manslaughter and culpability laws. From driving to client meetings or exhibitions to making deliveries or collecting supplies, fleet managers have a duty of care to ensure that they demonstrate a proactive approach to occupational risk and the safety of their grey fleet personnel behind the wheel. Commuting, though, is not classed as an at-work business activity. Motivation should come not just from legal and financial implications but also moral and environmental, in today’s world of evolving mobility as a service (MaaS) solutions, multi-modal mobility, car-sharing, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and CO2 challenges linked to air pollution.

The implications of greater health awareness

Driving licence checks and ‘fit to drive’ assessments are quickly becoming less straightforward than at previous times, with mental health, sleep apnoea and other conditions increasingly discussed in the media, again adding to the challenge of managing grey fleet drivers. With the DVLA holding over 47 million driver records and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) reporting in excess of 61 million active antidepressant prescriptions as of 2015, today’s fleet managers need to be ever mindful in addition to monitoring licence penalty points and disqualifications.

In its subscriber report ‘Measuring the risk. Fleet Safety Forum’ from 2012, prominent road safety charity Brake Professional found that even among its generally relatively alert members, 32% conceded that they hadn’t extended their vehicle checks and maintenance policies to grey fleet cars.

The disadvantages of grey fleet vehicles

BVRLA research puts the average grey fleet vehicle at 8.2 years of age and rightly asserts that few will have Euro 6 compliant engines so will be more polluting as well as more susceptible to mechanical or electrical failures, and with lower Euro NCAP safety ratings. By comparison, the majority of vehicles leased by businesses and organisations tend to be no older than 4 years, meaning they will also benefit from the latest communication and safety technology such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane keeping assist. When it comes to the environment, the BVRLA cites average grey fleet emissions as 152g/km CO2 compared to an impressive 112g/km for new leased cars.

Outsourcing grey fleet management

From assisting with drafting a robust grey fleet policy that will benefit both organisations and their drivers alike, to managing the grey fleet vehicles involved, engaging an experienced management broker like Vehicle Consulting has clear advantages.

We appreciate that many fleets, particularly SMEs, may not feel that now is the right time to embrace emerging solutions such as car-sharing clubs, electric or hybrid vehicles, multimodal mobility or indeed promote traditional car alternatives like public transport to encourage grey fleet drivers out of their vehicles.

Our grey fleet management solution is aimed at fleets of up to 250 vehicles (with any ratio of grey fleet vehicles) and encompasses mileage management and capture, servicing and MoT records and reminders, a driver database spanning incident records, driving licence copies, eye tests, parking fines, motoring convictions and any other relevant data legally storable in compliance with GDPR, the production of grey fleet driver on-boarding and training documentation, vicarious responsibility insurance claims assessment, and telematics solutions to identify at-risk drivers and aid remedial training.

It all starts with a free grey fleet audit to identify areas of improvement alongside whether your organisation as a whole and/or certain grey fleet drivers would financially benefit from contract hire or other forms of access to vehicles based on typical travel habits and requirements. We can also provide direction in obtaining best practice, health and safety, legal and other advice related to grey fleet. Contact our fleet team for a no-obligation chat.