Research released today by Enterprise Rent-a-Car shows business travellers who drive their own cars for work fail to carry out regular safety checks on their vehicles.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults in the UK, Ireland, Germany, France and Spain who drive their own cars for business use – the so-called ‘grey fleet’ – found that more than two in five (43 per cent) do not undertake regular maintenance checks on their vehicles. A third of those said they expect the car ‘to tell them if something was wrong’, while 36 per cent believe services and MOTs will uncover faults. A further 17 per cent simply expect modern cars to work without any trouble.

Of the recommended checks, 40 per cent have never tested their break lights, 38 per cent don’t check their tyre tread and 33 per cent fail to look at engine oil levels. Almost a third admit they’ve never even opened the car bonnet.

Moreover, the argument that ‘modern cars should work’ becomes invalid when taking into account that nearly half (44 per cent) of business travellers drive personal cars that are more than five years old, 13 per cent drive a vehicle that is more than a decade old and seven per cent are using a car more than 15 years old.

The survey also revealed that many drivers are unsure if their car even has the correct safety equipment for business trips. More than a quarter (28 per cent) don’t know if they have a warning triangle, 36 per cent don’t know if they have a jack and a third are uncertain if they have a high-visibility vest or jacket in their vehicle, even though these are among the safety tools that are mandatory in many European countries. Furthermore, 66 per cent don’t know if their car even has a usable spare tyre, 44 per cent don’t check if they have enough fuel for a journey and 61 per cent don’t plan to take driving breaks every two hours.

Rob Ingram, director of business rental for Europe at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, comments: “All over Europe, businesses allow employees to use their own cars for work journeys. However, our research indicates that many drivers are not always checking their vehicles before a business trip. It’s very likely that this is something that companies are simply not aware of, and equally, they may not be aware of some of the implications for the business should the driver be involved in an accident due to lack of vehicle maintenance.

“We would advise all European businesses with employees that drive their own vehicles for work to ensure their travel and transport policies cover areas such as vehicle maintenance and routine checks for personal vehicles used for business travel.

“Staff may need a reminder before they set off on a trip of what they need to take in their vehicle, especially if they drive abroad where the requirements may be different. In some cases, companies may wish to consider if it’s appropriate to help with the cost of these items, not least as they may be stopped and fined by police. Again, this is an area that can be addressed by a travel policy designed to cover the grey fleet.”

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