Co-Pilot is a unique programme from Volvo Car UK, designed to help you cut the costs and risks of driving for your business.

With Co-Pilot you can improve driver safety, facilitate compliance and better manage risk, all without additional budget or management workload.


You can’t eliminate the risk, but there are things that you can – indeed must – do to mitigate it. And you can dramatically reduce the costs – both human and financial – in the event that one of your drivers is at fault in an accident.

Combined with Volvo Car’s market-leading safety technology, Co-Pilot delivers real value to small and medium-sized businesses, helping to save money, time and lives through improved legal compliance, increased safety and risk management, and enhanced business optimisation.

The following information addresses the most commonly raised issues concerning the responsibilities of management and drivers around compliance, safety and risk.


I only have a few cars funded by the company. Surely that’s not a fleet?

A fleet can be a single car if it’s funded by the business. People often mistakenly think fleet means hundreds of cars. But the term could be applied to you and your car if the car is funded in any way by your business.

What does an employer have to do?
Employers are required by law to do what is “reasonably practicable” to: assess the risks, define acceptable behaviour, ensure drivers and vehicles are legal and ensure driver competency.

What does this mean in practical terms?
Employers must have a working driver policy, communicate it to the drivers, ensure their understanding by issuing a copy of it. They must also check their driving licences, carry out risk assessments, and if in their own cars, ensure they have business use insurance and the car is fit for purpose (i.e. properly maintained, MOT etc.).

I don’t have time to do all this.
As well as being a legal requirement, having good driving practices can save your business money. It’s all about reducing costs, or reducing damage and collision costs from poor driving, reducing fuel use from proper journey planning and driver awareness, and costs from post-collision such as rental cars, productivity from time off work and insurance claims. In 2004 Nestlé estimated the annual cost of road accidents involving staff across Europe, cost them the equivalent of 235 million Kit Kats.

Isn’t safety equipment on cars very expensive?
You may find that you pay a premium upfront for better-equipped cars. Volvo cars have systems such as City Safety as standard across the range. Modern vehicle safety systems can significantly reduce third party hit-in-rear collisions, side-impact collisions on motorways, reversing into path of third party, low-speed manoeuvring and parking collisions, and impact with pedestrians and cyclists.

What is grey fleet?
Grey fleet is the term given to drivers who use their own cars for business journeys, however infrequently. Many organisations are unsure of how to manage their grey fleet effectively: who exactly should be included, and what exactly they need to do in order to cover their duty-of-care obligations. Simply put, everyone who drives on a business journey has to be treated in the same way by the employer under their duty of care.

What are the penalties for not complying?
Significant fines for company AND directors AND drivers; company exposure to adverse publicity and reputational damage. May involve loss of job and even, in extreme circumstances, jail sentences.

Where do we stand when employing agency or temp drivers?
With temporary drivers, you shouldn’t give them the keys until you have checked licences and briefed them about the vehicle and what you are expecting them to do on your behalf. You are liable for their actions. The same applies to agency drivers; however, you should also make the agency aware of your driver policies and procedures, and they should agree in writing that their drivers will comply with your requirements.

I am convinced, but how do I convince the board of the financial benefits of improved driver safety?
Helping your high-risk drivers can bring big benefits to the business by reducing the amount spent on the obvious costs of business crashes such as increased insurance premiums and vehicle repair costs as well as the often hidden costs such as sick leave. Consider the following – for every £1,000 you are able to reduce accident costs by, you are adding £1,000 directly to the bottom-line profit of your company. In smaller companies, this can be the difference between a good or a bad year, while in medium and large companies, it can add up to many tens of thousands of pounds. How many extra sales would your team have to make to
achieve the same effect?

I supply eye tests for people who use computers. Do I have to do the same for company car drivers?
As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that your drivers are fit to drive, and being able to see clearly is a basic requirement for safe driving. Specsavers’ research shows that 40% of employers don’t even ask employees if they can see properly to drive.

Do sole traders need to undertake written risk assessments?
You don’t, but good practice would be for you to be able to demonstrate that you have completed vehicle checks, just in case you are involved in an incident. If you are using a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes (i.e. a large van), you do need to keep records of your licence, vehicle maintenance records, driving hours records and copy of insurance to keep your Operator’s Licence.

Our policy states: “we do not require employees to make or receive calls while driving.” Is this sufficient?
This may well be sufficient provided the policy has been fully explained to drivers and other office staff, who may not be aware of the policy, so they don’t phone drivers from the office. Regular updates to reinforce that the company does not require drivers to make or receive calls would also be helpful. The Transport Research Laboratory has recently released research showing that the reaction time of the average driver is around 0.9 seconds, 1.3 seconds for someone on a hands-free phone and 1.4 seconds for someone using a hand-held phone. The difference between hand-held and hands-free is therefore minimal.

What is a business journey for insurance purposes?
Private motor insurance will normally cover the insured driver to commute to and from their MAIN place of work only. Anything else, such as travel to other regional sites, training course, meetings etc., would normally be classed as business use for which the driver must have business motor insurance. It is highly likely that without proper business motor insurance, this driver would therefore be driving without insurance. If the driver were to be involved in a serious crash, then the company could expect to be investigated as to whether it had ensured drivers were aware of this requirement and whether checks had been made by the company to ensure appropriate insurance cover was in place.

We have 700 employees. Is it “reasonably practicable” to call DVLA to perform a licence check for every one?
Unfortunately, a visual check does not guarantee that you are seeing the original licence, as it is very easy indeed to get a duplicate. Not only do you need to check all 700 licences annually, but you should check those with penalty points more often. But rather than make the calls to DVLA yourself, you may find it more efficient to use a company to provide the service for you.

Who is responsible for checks on drivers of hire cars – the hire company or the employer?
Both. The employer because the employee is driving on their behalf, and usually on the company insurance. The hire company as they may need ID for the driver, and if the hire includes insurance cover. Most rental companies will not issue a car without sight of the licence. The hire forms have mandatory fields that must be completed, unless the company has an insurance certificate lodged with the hire company.


Do the rules only apply to company car drivers?
No – they apply to everyone who drives for your business, whether in a company car or in their own car. And even if they only work part-time. This includes every business journey – even going out to get milk for a meeting. Remember, it’s about the drivers, not just the cars.

What are these rules?
There are several pieces of legislation: Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2007. Prosecutions and actions mainly occur under the Health and Safety at Work legislation. For drivers, it’s the highway code.

Why can’t a driving policy just tell people to follow the Highway Code? 
One reason is that the driving policy may treat some issues slightly differently. For example, it is legal to drive after a small amount of alcohol or while on a hands-free phone, but many employers take a zero-tolerance approach to both these activities. The employer may also wish to provide more detailed guidance on certain topics such as vehicle maintenance.

How likely is it that my drivers are under the influence of drink or drugs?
According to Alere Toxicology, a recent white paper has highlighted that as many as 6% of all workers tested positive for drink or drugs – and that is just from the companies that have already implemented a testing regime. The transport and logistics industry was the worst with 8.3% of workers testing positive. Imagine what the number could be when you include organisations where there is no fear of being tested. Industries with mandatory testing, such as the rail industry, were significantly less at 3%.

Do we need risk assessment and driver policy for subcontractors?
If a subcontractor or self-employed person uses a vehicle that you provide, you need to manage this. Record-keeping is essential. A good way to check this is to ask them for their own business driving-atwork policy or handbook. If they don’t have one, ask them to comply with what you do for your drivers and company vehicles.

Would you classify high mileage, i.e. greater than 20k per annum, as high-risk, and what other criteria would you use?
Age and mileage are good indicators for national stereotypes but not reliable indicators at an individual level. Ideally, drivers should be assessed on road knowledge, attitude and skill. High-risk drivers may have points on their licence; they may have poor concentration or awareness; they may not be very confident – there is no simple definition. Which is why a driver risk assessment tool is valuable – it will highlight risks and help you understand how to mitigate them.

Do volunteer drivers for charities need business insurance?
As long as they don’t claim more than the HMRCapproved amount for business mileage, then they probably don’t need business insurance. Most insurance companies will cover voluntary work; however, some require the driver to inform their insurance company first. The charity still has a duty of care to make the driver aware of what standards are expected of them. How much you would need to do depends on how frequently they drive for you.

Co-Pilot is a unique programme from Volvo Car UK, designed to help Fleet Decision Makers cut the costs and risks of driving within your business. 

Through partnerships with key industry experts, Co-Pilot keeps you updated on all the laws around company cars, what changes to these laws mean and how future industry developments could affect your business. It also educates you in the protection of your drivers, to ensure they’re always safe and compliant.

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