Forthcoming UK corporate killing legislation, proposed for later this year, may render fleet operators liable to prosecution if their vehicle maintenance records are not properly kept. The regulatory changes could mean expensive technological upgrades, favouring the larger operators. However, they will also improve the residual value of fleet vehicles and mean increased safety for all.

New corporate killing legislation will render employers vulnerable to prosecution for any injury or fatality resulting from poorly maintained vehicles and equipment. The legislation will place a new legal requirement on fleet operators to provide proof that vehicles in their fleets have been maintained to the required standard and to keep more accurate records of servicing intervals.

This could be problematic for employers who outsource fleet management to third party providers, as they will be faced with a new need to ensure visibility over the condition of vehicles in their fleet. In the past, such employers have often relied upon their outsourced provider to assume maintenance responsibility, with no real need on the part of the employer to check their vehicles’ records themselves. In order to resolve this, employers will need to improve records management and communication systems in partnership with their fleet management providers.

The need to ensure that vehicles have been kept within a structured, actionable and auditable maintenance programme has never been greater. Developments in IT are enabling fleet managers to automatically and remotely receive maintenance and vehicle condition information via online or wireless systems. This development will remove some of the burden, but such solutions are expensive to implement. The increased cost may well hinder smaller operators from using such new technologies, placing them at a competitive disadvantage. These changing regulatory conditions will therefore favour the larger or better-organised operators in the market, which in coming years may lead to a shifting competitive landscape.

However, the facilities for abiding by the proposed legislation do exist and offer considerable benefits for fleet operators. The changes will not only increasing driver safety, but also improve the residual value of vehicles by ensuring that upon disposal they are equipped with immaculate histories of maintenance.

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