– By Marc Sibbald –
At the recent NSW Fleet Forum held in Sydney Lee Sauerwald, executive manager corporate at Uniting Communities in South Australia, presented on the issue of grey fleet.
Sauerwald spoke from the position of managing a grey fleet because as a charitable organisation Uniting Communities often rely on volunteers using their vehicles to perform services for customers. It was a well researched presentation with plenty of statistics and references to research quoting the cost of road accidents and likelihood of people driving for work being involved in an road crash.
Sauerwald defined a grey fleet as – employees authorised to drive personal cars for business purposes.
Some of the signs that a grey fleet exists within your business are reimbursement payments for business travel and employees running errands to pick up mail, or deliver products to customers on the way to and from the office.
Uniting Communities has conducted an audit of their fleet and found that the 125 fleet vehicles traveled approximately one million kilometres per annum, and the 300 grey fleet vehicles traveled more than two million kilometres per annum. Based on this information Sauerwald suggested that the actual grey fleet size in Australia is two to three times larger than the official company owned fleets.
This presents a number of risks and one key area of concern is the age and condition of the vehicles being used. With the average age of registered vehicles in Australia being close to ten years, there is a high chance that the vehicles being driven by your employees for work purposes are not as safe as they were when they rolled off the production line.
People generally refer to maintenance issues when talking about safety of older vehicles. But it can also mean the vehicles suitability to the task. For example a sedan may be used to transport stock or parcels that are unsecured in the back seat. Safety of older vehicles also refers to their crash rating and safety technologies. A five star vehicle in 2006 would not meet the criteria for a five star rating in 2015.
Though there are many areas of risk to consider with a grey fleet, Uniting Communities sounds like they they a better handle on it then most fleets judging by the reactions from AFMA members at the forum.
They are working on several initiatives to better understand and manage their grey fleet and one that sounded like a fantastic idea was ensuring employees have regular maintenance checks. They are even in discussions with the RAA to pilot a grey fleet vehicle inspection program.
Grey fleets have been around for many years but now they have a name. And even if you don’t acknowledge their existence you still have an accountability under the law to manage them and provide a safe working environment for your employees.
To find out about the next AFMA Fleet Forum visit the AFMA website – www.afma.net.au