Time to Prepare for a Grey Fleet Boom

Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 8/17/2020

By Ed Dubens, Founder/CEO of eDriving

Throughout the world many sales fleets are experiencing dramatic reductions in business mileage while simultaneously service and last mile distribution fleets are operating at holiday peak plus! With predictions that a large proportion of employees are likely to continue working from home until at least March 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have a significant effect on fleet and driver management planning and resourcing.

If employees officially become home-based workers, they may no longer be eligible for a company vehicle, or having one might not make financial sense. Becoming a home-based worker also affects what constitutes a “business trip.” Even the commute, when it’s made, could become a business trip depending on an employee’s location classification. If company-owned vehicle use decreases, privately-owned vehicle use will almost certainly increase.

What does this mean for organizations? It means exciting new challenges lie ahead! Traditionally, grey fleet, or the use of privately-owned vehicles for work purposes, is an area that is all too often overlooked by organizations, even those with relatively comprehensive driver safety policies in place. Unfortunately, organizations frequently make the mistake of thinking that the grey fleet means less responsibility and liability exposure on their part!  A change in vehicle ownership doesn’t necessarily equal a decrease in company liability; in fact, if privately-owned vehicles are being used for work purposes, employers have the same legal and “duty of care” responsibilities for those workers and vehicles, as well as additional concerns over whether the vehicle is insured and maintained correctly.

Conversely, those businesses involved in service and last mile distribution also have challenges to manage. As mileage increases so does the wear and tear on vehicles and their drivers – are vehicles being correctly maintained; are drivers receiving the necessary training, coaching and support?

Best Practice Tips for Managing Your Grey Fleet Drivers

  • Enroll all those who drive for work purposes in your driver risk management program, including those using their own vehicles, and family members using the same vehicles.
  • Remember that the same obligations apply to the management of grey fleet driver safety, including ensuring the driver is suitably qualified and licensed, and that the vehicle is safe to use, adequately maintained in line with manufacturer’s instructions, and correctly insured. Incorporating multiple data insights into your safety program, such as regular license checks, collision history, telematic behaviors and risk assessment, will not only give you a thorough overview of organizational risk but will also help you identify your 20% most at-risk drivers for further support and coaching.
  • Maintain engagement/training/coaching, even if you expect employees to be off the road for a while. Focusing on driver behavior and keeping knowledge refreshed will help keep them safe when on-road activities increase.
  • Strive to achieve a crash-free culture® that results in your organization living and breathing safety as a strategic imperative – including those who don’t currently drive for work purposes (remember that they might drive outside of work, and may drive for your company in the future!).
  • Utilize this time, as we transition to a new normal, to review operations and prepare in advance for change, including ensuring policies and procedures are up-to-date and relevant to your current activities.

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the future will look like for organizations, being prepared for changing scenarios and dramatics shifts to operational norms will undoubtedly stand you in good stead for whatever the new normal brings!

About eDriving
eDriving helps organizations to reduce collisions, injuries, license violations and total cost of fleet ownership through a patented driver risk management program.

Mentor by eDrivingSM is a smartphone-based solution that collects and analyzes driver behaviors most predictive of crash risk and helps remediate risky behavior by providing engaging, interactive micro training modules delivered directly to the driver in the smartphone app. As part of a broader risk management platform, Virtual Risk Manager®, eDriving provides organizations with everything they need to establish safety as a strategic imperative, and support drivers and managers as they strive to create a crash-free culture®.

eDriving is the driver risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest organizations, supporting over 1,000,000 drivers in 96 countries. Over the past 24 years, eDriving’s research-validated programs have been recognized with over 75 awards around the world.