Fleets making use of driver-owned home delivery vehicles are “dancing around” acceptable levels of safety and need to start addressing the issue.
While FleetCheck said there have always been some issues with people using their own unsuitable vehicles for business activities, it’s warned that massive growth in the sector has increased the potential for safety issues.
Peter Golding, managing director of the fleet software specialist, said: “I suspect we’ve all got our own horror stories about some of the vehicles that we’ve experienced courier drivers using, such as the 22-year-old Volvo estate that I’ve seen.”
However, Golding said that such ‘outlying’ vehicles are not so much a core issue and the main problem is that even the better vehicles being used are often not fit for purpose.
“If you’ve got a hundred parcels to deliver, fleet norms on safety say that you should be using a van with a bulkhead. If someone has an accident with all of those parcels unsecured on the back and front seats of their hatchback, the chances of the driver hit hard by something heavy moving at speed is massively increased.”
He added that FleetCheck was not making this point to target the drivers – who are helping to keep the economy turning over and, in some cases, helping to deliver services that are essential during the current crisis.
But he called on home delivery companies to start taking action – saying that for some, the only requirement is that the vehicle has an MOT and is insured for business use. And for many courier firms, the entire issue of safety is often outsourced to the driver.
“Companies employing people and their vehicles on this basis are dancing around what is acceptable in safety terms. Their drivers and other road users deserve better,” he continued.
Golding said the sector needed to “align to industry norms on safety over time”, adopting the same kind of everyday operational measures as other company cars and vans.
“These driver-owned vehicles are grey fleet and, as every good fleet manager knows, that means the employer has exactly the same responsibilities as for company-owned vehicles.
“Home delivery and courier companies should, at the very least, be looking at driving licences, maintenance records, insisting on regular walkaround checks and ensuring that vehicles are fit for carrying parcels. These are safety essentials for every fleet.”
He also said the issue should certainly be tackled as we come out of the crisis.
“These employers have both a legal and a moral responsibility,” he finished.