A fleet management expert has called on firms to fully embrace the technologies that can drastically reduce the amount of paperwork they’re currently burdened with – and which can radically simplify the processes of legal compliance, vehicle maintenance and driver management.
In an insightful, exclusive new video interview with Teletrac Navman, Peter Golding – founder and managing director of Fleetcheck, a fleet management and fleet consultancy firm – discussed a range of the key challenges facing fleet operators, focusing in particular on the risks of legal exposure and the necessity of effective methods to ensure rigorous compliance.
Mr Golding noted that while larger fleet operators were generally acutely aware of their responsibilities, smaller fleet operators had a somewhat tougher task in this regard as for these companies, the task of running a fleet might not be their primary business concern.
“Our experience shows that companies that are running, say, five, 50 or even up to 250 vehicles – it may not be their core responsibility. The tasks of managing fleets fit in with their day job,” he explained. “Understanding – and ignorance – of what [these firms] need to do, that’s the biggest challenge.”
He added that access to adequate knowledge, education and guidance in these areas was essential for firms running smaller fleets. Mr Golding also pointed out that fleet operators are facing new challenges of which many are still unaware – such as the introduction of the new Sentencing Council guidelines in 2015, as a result of which courts now look at business turnover when deciding financial awards.
“A business that may have had an injury at work – or worse –could have been levied a fine of £60,000 going back about three years ago. If that same court case happened today, that fine would be [nearer] £500,000,” he said. “Businesses could fail and they could go bust.”
Peter warned that so many firms remain unaware of the implications of this important legal change that many of them won’t find out about it until they’re in the process of being dragged before the courts.
Asked what he’d like to see from the new government, Mr Golding observed that new legislation wasn’t always what the fleet industry wanted to see. But he did observe that many fleet operators were unaware of their obligations under existing legislation. He told Teletrac Navman that with full service intervals now extended to every two years or 30,000 miles, fleet operators themselves need to ensure their drivers are on top of maintenance tasks.
“The manufacturers, because of advances in technology now, have extended service intervals to a point where the responsibility for vehicles is moved from the garages to the companies,” he observed. “The implication is that it’s highly likely that a lot of companies today have got vehicles on the road that are illegal.”
But it was the promise of the various technologies, including GPS fleet management and compliance management that is now available to fleet operators that Mr Golding was perhaps keenest to emphasise. He told us that technology was delivering real solutions for fleet operators now, on everything from dealing with vehicle defect checks to the use of mobile apps for driver management.
Mr Golding also commented that with government itself going in the same direction – through the abolition of paper tax discs and paper counterparts for drivers’ licences – it was essential for fleet managers to ensure they use the tools that are available to them in the here and now.