Responsibility, when it comes to owning who does what with a company vehicle can be confusing. Is it the drivers? Is it the employers? Often the liability goes back to the fleet manager.
But having a clear point of ownership is not always that straightforward.
For example, how many drivers of company vehicles, report minor damage? Are those tiny dents and scratches only reported during the annual service? Even worse, how many drivers ignore dashboard warning lights?
This is a problem because some employees mistakenly believe their employer is responsible for servicing their company car.
Failure to keep on top of maintenance checks or rectify accident damage can result in a significant repair bill. Not to mention an employee driving a vehicle which is potentially not fit-for-purpose and poses a risk to their safety.
To shed light on whether the driver or the company are liable, we examine the most common driving offences.
When it is driver responsibility
According to the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence: “To use cause or permit another to use a motor vehicle or trailer on a road which might for whatever reason, involve a danger of injury to any person.”
Regarding a driver of a company car; the above stipulations would mean that it is their responsibility to ensure the vehicle was legal to drive before using. Typically this would cover aspects such as tyres, wheel fixings, bodywork, trailer coupling, lights, windows, load, and visibility of the vehicle’s number plates.
Drivers should carefully inspect the vehicle before use, as some aspects can be easily overlooked. A giant crack in the windscreen, obscuring the driver’s view, or a flat tyre is an obvious hazard that is easy to spot. However, the depth of a tyre’s groove or the weight of your vehicle may require more careful examination.
The penalties a driver may receive for driving a defective vehicle will range depending on the type and severity of the offence. Fines could leave you seriously out of pocket, and worse, you could gain points on your licence or even end up having your licence revoked. Pleas of ignorance or that the vehicle belongs to your company are unlikely to excuse the offence.
If you believe a company vehicle is unfit for use, you have the right to refuse to drive it until your company has made the necessary repairs. A company cannot sanction or dismiss you on for raising concerns about the vehicle or refusing to drive it if you believe the vehicle not to be roadworthy.
Areas where the company and driver are liable
A good company practice is to place a copy of the MOT and insurance certificate in the glove compartment of each company vehicle. This will assure drivers that the legal requirements are in place. More importantly, ready to present them to the police for inspection, should the vehicle be pulled over for any reason.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 (47 – Obligatory test certificates), Government legislation cites that: “A person who uses on a road at any time, or causes or permits to be so used, a motor vehicle to which this section applies, and as respects which no test certificate has been issued within the appropriate period before that time, is guilty of an offence.”
Under these circumstances, a driver may be charged with driving a vehicle without an MOT, as he or she has failed to ensure that the vehicle is legally roadworthy before use. The company too will receive a charge of causing/permitting a vehicle they own to not have a valid and up-to-date MOT.
To avoid any confusion, it is also a good practice for a company to keep and to provide drivers with documentation that clearly and contractually states who will be responsible for what. Many grievances are raised with companies, on all matters, where the cause was a lack of information sharing.
A current and valid MOT certificate is required for a vehicle to be insured. In the case of being pulled over for driving without an MOT, companies are drivers would likely be charged with driving with invalid or no insurance.
This is arguably a more serious criminal offence and, as cited on gov.uk could result in: “The police giving you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive.”
If the case goes to court you could get:
- An unlimited fine
- Disqualified from driving
- The police also have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy the vehicle that’s being driven uninsured.
Under these circumstances, the driver of the vehicle could receive a fine or points on their licence. The company could see the vehicle seized or destroyed, and would possibly have to pay a fine. This scenario can likewise be avoided by outlining who is legally responsible for insurance in a clear, contractual document, where both parties sign.
Implementing a few simple changes could significantly reduce wear and tear costs to the business. For example, regular maintenance checks by employees or the business can help identify issues early and avoid things getting worse and causing further damage.
So, in answer to whose responsibility is it? It’s both the fleet manager’s and the driver’s responsibility to maintain a company vehicle.
Expert support from MyService.Expert
At Fuel Card Services, we make the whole process of vehicle responsibility easier. We have built up a network of garages that offer the best in terms of quality, standards, and customer service and call it MyService.Expert.
Our relationship with these dealer groups means we can offer you a full choice of service with top garages who have made a genuine investment in delivering high standards of service through the hands of highly-skilled technicians.
It is simple to join
At MyService.Expert it is free to register your vehicles, plus you get many more benefits.
The benefits of joining MyService.Expert
Here is how it works: One of your vehicles is due for a service. MyService.Expert will send you an alert, then provide discounted costs from garages near you. You compare and select. We pay the garage and then invoice you. Easy.
The benefits of joining do not end there: Fuel Card Services’ partnership with these experts means you typically save 30% on work in comparison to going direct to a franchise dealer
There is no joining fee, and no minimum contract to register your vehicles online. In addition there is no minimum number of cars, vans or HGVs that can be added.
Simplify your vehicle maintenance by booking work via the online portal. Here you can job authorise and pre-negotiate discount rates that cover servicing, repairs and maintenance. It also includes tyre replacement or repairs
The costings are transparent, based upon thorough working knowledge and up-to-date automotive data. Plus all genuine parts and repairs are protected under warranty.
All costs need your online approval before work begins. Doing this action is easy, MyService.Expert is accessible anywhere and at anytime on a WiFi connected device.
Just like your Fuel Card Services provides visible costings to keeping your business moving with fuel; think of MyService.Expert as your vehicle maintenance expense solution.
Visit MyService.Expert today or call 0844 134 0746