Grey fleet (or “gray” fleet) is the term used to describe any vehicles that do not belong to the company, but which are used for business travel. This includes vehicles owned or leased by the employee via some form of reimbursement program from the employer. When these vehicles are driven on company business, they are considered part of the “grey fleet” – and as such fall under the responsibility of the employer. Like any company fleet, these drivers and their vehicles can be a challenge to manage.
Fleet and safety managers need to be aware of the risks and liabilities associated with the gray fleet. Moreover, they need to know how to implement programs that reduce exposure and provide for meaningful engagement of drivers. In this article, we will examine key risk management issues associated with grey fleets and how mobile telematics can solve many of the challenges.
Why Grey Fleet Auto Liability is an Issue
There are many reasons employers should be concerned with their grey fleet, the most important of which are:
Negligent Entrustment – this is defined as a cause of action in tort law that arises where one party (the entrustor) is held liable for negligence because they negligently provided another party (the entrustee) with a dangerous instrumentality, and the entrusted party caused injury to a third party with that instrumentality. For example, if a company hires a field service technician with a poor driving record, and that driver causes and accident, then the company could be liable for legal damages. They could be viewed as grossly negligent in the eyes of the law.
Automobile Liability – In the insurance industry, “non-owned autos” carry a specific policy and coverage definition. Non-owned autos are vehicles that a company does not own, including employees’ vehicles used in connection with their employment. Most auto policies include coverage for non-owned autos on an “excess” basis, meaning that the employee’s insurance is “primary” (pays first) and the business’ non-owned auto policy is “excess” (pays second). This means that if an employee driving on company business gets into an accident, the company is liable for damage in excess of the employee’s “primary” policy limits.
Workers’ Compensation – If an employee is injured in a car accident while driving a vehicle for a work-related reason, they may be able to file a claim with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. In the U.S., this can include car accidents that occur while an employee is performing a job-related task, such as:
Traveling for a work-related reason for which the employee is compensated
Driving another employee for business purposes
Running a work-related errand
Driving from one worksite to another
Distracted Driving & Cell Phones – Distracted driving might be the most dangerous activity that can affect the grey fleet. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone. Regardless of the types of policies your company uses to enforce “no texting while driving,” employees are constantly tempted to use their cell phones. Anything that may divert a driver’s attention from the road puts them and your company at risk.
How Mobile Telematics Can Help
Winning over your grey fleet drivers with full telematics might be a tough sell. However, mobile telematics is a lightweight, driver centric solution that offers the following benefits:
Hardware free – mobile telematics solutions like Motovate are hardware free, thus avoiding the awkward hassle of asking drivers to install “black box” devices in their personal vehicles. This also helps avoid the “big brother” negative perception of full telematics
Behavior Analytics – mobile telematics technology gathers statistics about driver behavior, such as acceleration patterns, harsh breaking patterns and most important, cell phone distraction and use while driving. This data can be used to not only assess risk, but also engage drivers in personalized feedback. It can also help identify additional training and awareness opportunities.
Gamification and Employee Engagement – Distracted driving prevention applications and mobile telematics allows you to engage with drivers in a friendly and competitive way that promotes your company culture. Although no one wants a “big brother” technology, the fact is that proactive engagement with gameful solutions shows that you trust your employees and that safety does not have to be boring.
Rewards Based Behavior Modification – What is in it for them? Motivation is the key to forming safe habits. With mobile telematics, you can reward your employees with incentives to drive safely, including rewards for distraction-free driving.
Social Sharing Outside of Work – With the right mobile telematics solution, your grey fleet drivers can establish their own network of safe drivers by connecting with family and friends. This further helps drivers to form safe driving habits by using influencers outside of work. In this context, drivers are more likely to become safer drivers in their free time thus creating a better driver overall.
Mobile telematics, with a particular focus on distracted or dangerous driving in general, can benefit any grey fleet when deployed correctly. Unsafe driving comes in many forms, with texting and driving being just one of them. Luckily, although technology has created the problem, we believe technology can help to solve it.
Could your grey fleet use some ‘motovation’ to drive without looking at their phone?