As we move ever closer to an autonomous future, the safety of drivers, passengers, and other road users (in vehicles or pedestrians) is a key part of the conversation. The numerous ethical, moral and practical issues emerging through this debate are yet to be resolved, but fundamentally businesses will continue to need to ensure that their employees are safe while travelling for work.
Bringing this conversation back to today's operating environment, fleet managers spend a lot of time on safety when selecting and purchasing new business vehicles, reviewing the standard and optional inclusions, debating whether a 5 star ANCAP rating is a must-have, and generally ensuring that they are providing a safe working environment for their employees. Once they have acquired the vehicles, they will then also monitor servicing schedules, and plan for replacement as vehicles reach set end-of-life triggers.
Most organisations will however have minimal visibility over their grey fleet. For those unfamiliar with the term, this is when employees use their private vehicles for business purposes (regardless of whether they are reimbursed or not). This creates additional risks for the business, with private vehicles tending to be older, and often not being serviced and maintained to the same standards as their fleet counterparts.
Looking at the data below, we can see that more than half of business km in 2016 were travelled by vehicles that were more than five years old. Considering the advances in safety technology over the last five years highlights the risk this creates, with features like blind spot monitoring, and Autonomous Emergency Braking that are now becoming standard not broadly available prior to this. Additionally, vehicles from 2000 or earlier (i.e. over 15 years old) travelled more than 6 billion business km in 2016
While organisations like AfMA are trying to help members more effectively manage this situation, this data highlights that there is still work to be done to ensure Australian businesses are not exposing their employees to risks.
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