Car policies – why they are relevant to every fleet: Protecting the drivers while enhancing company performance
The tasks and duties of fleet management include the administration and monitoring of fleet processes as well as strategic issues like vehicle coordination. In addition to keeping in mind mobility and expenditure, fleet managers are tasked with, primarily, protecting the wellbeing of their colleagues, i.e. the drivers, during vehicle use. In this post we explain why every fleet should have a car policy and what a good policy looks like.
Car Policies protect the drivers and ensure company performance
What are car policies and what should they cover? When you hear the word “car policy,” you automatically think of owner liability like vehicle checks, MOT (Ministry of Transport) inspections, plus driver instruction and driver’s license verification. However, this view of car policies is rather limited. Driver safety starts with the initial procurement and equipping of the vehicles. This is where focusing attention on driver safety in the shaping of car policies pays off. As a rule of thumb, a car policy or fleet guidelines determine which employee is eligible for which type of vehicle and what equipment the vehicle should have.
Safety aspects considered in the car policy: from driving times to GPS systems
In the shaping of a car policy, it is vital to include every aspect as comprehensively as possible. It makes sense, therefore, to consider the following:
- Guidelines for reducing risks while employing a vehicle (frequent breaks, refreshments, driving times, etc.) in addition to standard Accident Prevention Regulation instructions
- Vehicle type selection to ensure the highest safety standards (IP five-star Euro NCAP crash tests*)
- Safety features like lumbar support, hands-free kits, navigation systems, head-up displays, etc.
*Euro NCAP introduced 2009 the general safety rating system based on four key areas: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, protection of vulnerable road users” (pedestrians, cyclists) and safety systems (driver assistance and collision avoidance)
Safety features in the user-chooser fleet
One speaks of a user chooser when an employee has a certain say in the choice of the company car. The leasing rate as well as the make and class form the usual framework within which a user chooser acts in the selection of a company car. Just five years earlier, safety features in a user-chooser fleet were quite low in priority. In the meantime, the majority of all company vehicles are outfitted with such features. As automotive technological development advances, fleet managers can increasingly focus on the organizational measures that lead to driver safety enhancement.
Percentage of user-chooser vehicles with appropriate safety features:
|Adaptive cruise control||15%||48%|
|Hill start assist||10%||25%|
|Lane departure warning||2%||15%|
Protective measures in the fleet – How car policies enhance safety
Company vehicles are work equipment governed by the provisions of occupational health and safety law, IP accident prevention regulations. They stipulate that protective measures must be taken to ensure no recourse will be taken in the event of an accident. It is therefore crucial for the fleet held liable to demonstrate it has fulfilled its obligations with a comprehensive car policy – and not acted in a grossly negligent manner, and has observed the current safety standards.
Gross negligence is, e.g., clearly demonstrated in the following cases:
- When a vehicle has no cargo securing aids for transport purposes, thereby making proper cargo securing out of the question, and as such exposed it to a high accident risk.
- When the employer provides a pool car with summer tires for winter road conditions.
- When service vehicles lacking airbags are assigned to two service personnel driving together to a worksite.
Car policies can reduce accident costs
Employee health and safety is, without doubt, the main concern, though increased expenditure for company vehicles are worth consideration not only from the point of view of driver safety. Many companies recognize that an employee’s absence as a result of an accident can have detrimental effects on company performance. Not only the direct costs due to continued wage payout, but also administrative costs as a result of work reorganization, overtime accruement, personnel recruitment and loss of production and possibly contractual penalties due to missed deadlines are often many times greater than the actual material damage to the vehicle. Often left out of consideration are the resulting raised premiums charged by the employers’ liability insurance association, not unlike car insurance companies, which rewards companies with low accident figures and penalizes those for having higher cases of accident.
It is therefore vital for companies to shape car policies and, if necessary, to extend and adapt them continuously. Especially with regard to safety, a well-considered car policy can protect the driver while safeguarding the company’s performance.