Colin Paterson, head of marketing at driver training specialist Drivetech, shares his tips on how shops can manage the risks associated with the growing grey fleet trend
The pandemic has seen workers displaced from industries as diverse as aerospace and events get behind the wheel of a delivery van or bike for the first time – often driving their own vehicles in a trend known as grey fleet rise.
But just because drivers are freelance rather than employees and using their own vehicles does not mitigate your duty of care towards them when it comes to road safety. So, what exactly are your responsibilities?
Duty of care
If a vehicle is being used for business travel, employers are responsible for ensuring it is adequately maintained and safe – even though it’s not company-owned. Poorly maintained vehicles can leave employers widely exposed under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007.
Fish and chip shop owners should check the following before employment starts to ensure legal compliance and safety:
• Vehicle maintenance checks
• Proof of insurance business cover
• Licence validity
• Alcohol or drug use
Driver behaviours – i.e. penalty points incurred by speeding or phone usage
• Overall health
• Age and experience
• Road tax validity
• Evidence of recent servicing
• Up-to-date MOT
The Health & Safety Executive also provides a useful overview of the recent trend changes in this area, with particular reference to rising grey fleet vehicle usage and the gig economy, following the republication of its guidance for people driving for work in late 2021.
Highway Code changes
Drivers must also be aware of recent Highway Code changes. Key amendments include the new risk-based hierarchy of road users. This means that drivers, regardless of the vehicle they drive, have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians and cyclists. For example, drivers must leave a distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, and vehicles turning into a road should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross.
Insurance is another critical area. Patrick Smith, founder and executive director of Tribe Advisory, says: “In the delivery sector, freelance drivers have the freedom to offer their services to the platforms they choose. Where they use a motorised vehicle, requiring motor third party liability insurance by law, it’s their responsibility to carry the right insurance, covering the use of the vehicle for the commercial activity undertaken, such as food delivery.
“In the case of a non-motorised vehicle, such as a bicycle or e-bike, many platform providers will provide tailored non-motor liability insurance to protect the freelance drivers, as beneficiaries, while they are providing their services. This is often provided alongside personal accident, income protection and even sickness cover for all freelancers, no matter what form of transport they are using.
“Insurance will need to continue to evolve as the gig economy continues to evolve and as the world of micro-mobility and last mile service provision matures and becomes more embedded in society.”