Spotlight on Work-Vehicle Bingles & Managing Your Risks

As a business owner, you know how important it is to maintain the safety of your work fleet and have clear policies for staff using them. 

The cost of fleet accidents

The social and economic costs of all road crashes in Australia are more than $30 billion each year, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics. It is tricky to narrow down the figures just for fleet or business-registered vehicles, though.

What’s fueling those overall costs? Part of it is that nine out of 10 Aussie motorists say they regularly daydream behind the wheel, says Monash University’s Accident Research Centre. Distraction is the main reason for 16% of serious crashes needing hospitalisation.

This article explains your and your drivers’ responsibilities to boost your risk management approach.

Employer responsibilities

As an employer, there’s plenty you can do to reduce your risks of a work-vehicle bingle, including:

  • Have a written car use policy that you discuss with them, to clarify when, where and how the vehicle can be used, and if a logbook must be filled in
  • Be sure to register your work vehicles
  • Ensure you have the right comprehensive insurance for your fleet
  • Retain copies of driver licences of your staff using the vehicles
  • Check that cover for roadside help and whether it’s just for business hour breakdowns
  • Program vehicle servicing and maintenance
  • Invest in technology to support and (ethically and legally) monitor and give feedback to staff driving your work vehicles. Here’s Verizon’s 2023 guide to fleet tech trends.

As well, check out this fitness to drive policy assessment guide to review your own. Learn more about road safety in the workplace. Here’s how Essential Energy made it an essential part of their business, and another publication about engaging and educating their workers.

If the work vehicle is involved in an accident, employers also have vicarious liability for damages and injuries caused. Work closely with us to lodge an insurance claim, and you should expect the employee involved to fully co-operate, too. 

It’s important to know that when your employee suffers injuries while driving for work, that could trigger a workers’ compensation claim to cover time off work and care.

Employee responsibilities

Employees driving company cars should abide by these rules:

  • Read the company’s car use policy closely
  • Be clear if they can use the car for personal use and/or out of business hours
  • Check with the employer on insurance coverage
  • Know who to contact if there’s an accident and what documentation is needed
  • Keep the car serviced and clean
  • Immediately tell the employer about any damage
  • Maintain a driver’s licence
  • Follow the road rules. (The Fair Work Commission says employers can sack staff for repeated speeding incidents when driving a business vehicle for work.)

Commercial vehicle insurance options 

The most appropriate policy to protect your business from risks relating to work vehicles is a commercial vehicle or business vehicle/car insurance. Typically, vehicles that carry up to five tonnes, such as trucks, utes, vans, sedans, hatchbacks, forklifts, trailers, and some earthmoving and mobile plant come under this policy.

Often, you can choose your own repairer, or use the insurers nominated repairer and have the confidence of lifetime guarantee of those repairs. You can also insure your work vehicles if an uninsured driver damages them, or if theft or fire is involved. Hire vehicles, lease payout and new vehicle replacement are high-level offerings, too. They’re handy to ensure minimal disruption to your operations.

We can help you manage your risks with the best-fit policy for your business.