Person interacting with a virtual world map interface

Running a business is a financial and legal risk. The owner of the business and the management are ultimately responsible for the legal and financial conduct of that business, whether or not they are involved in the day-to-day running. So as a business owner or manager, you'll always be looking to lower the risk your business faces. Lots of business practices come with risks. Making products before getting paid is risky, taking out credit is risky, hiring staff is risky, and operating a fleet of company cars is risky. The trick is to minimise the risk wherever possible.

Why track company cars?

In order to run an efficient and compliant business that poses as low a risk as possible to its owner and management, company cars need to be used ethically, safely and within the law. Tracking company cars enable you to lower the risks your business faces while potentially monitoring and improving employee performance.

Risks of having company cars

  • Accidents and injuries to employees
  • Accidents and injuries to members of the public
  • Irresponsible or unethical use of company cars
  • Misuse of company cars and company time
  • Lack of productivity
  • Theft of valuable company equipment

Benefits of tracking

  • Potentially lower insurance premiums
  • Less temptation for unscheduled detours
  • Less temptation to speed
  • Ease of measuring performance
  • Tell customers where their delivery is at any given time

Giving staff access to company cars should increase their productivity. They should be able to use the car to conduct company business in a timely manner. But as we all know, not everyone's performance at work remains high all the time. Sometimes it's tempting for an employee to take a detour on the way back to the office or to stop off for a rest on company time. Put plainly, being away from the office and away from the people who monitor their performance increases the likelihood of a dip in performance.

When company vehicles are tracked, businesses can spot patterns of unethical behaviour. If your sales manager always seems to take an hour longer than she should be travelling back from a client meeting, you'll be able to spot this. What's more, she'll know you'll eventually spot it and will be less likely to dawdle or stop off unnecessarily.

What are the legal implications?

An employee may have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in a company car, so it's important to make clear to every car user that you track company vehicles. The easiest way of doing this is to include a clause in their employment contract that explains that the use of company cars is subject to be tracked. Our guide to surveillance and the law covers this in more detail. If the employee is entitled to use the car outside of office hours, you need to make it very clear in the wording of the contract that the vehicle is subject to tracking outside of office hours, or you need to give them the option to switch off tracking.

How to do it

Tracking a company car is relatively straightforward. Vehicle trackers work on GPS, a bit like sat-nav, so the position of the car is constantly recorded. In most cases, you can simply install the tracker discreetly inside the vehicle. If you want to be able to remove the tracker quickly and easily, you may wish to consider using a magnetic tracker that can be quickly and easily stuck to the wheel arch of the car. It depends on how often and how many cars you want to track and whether you need to track them all the time.

The next thing is to decide how you want to receive the information. Some trackers offer real-time information. So if you decide to track a specific car on its journey to see where it is, for example, if your company is delivering something to a customer, this is a good solution. But if you want a reliable record of where a car has been on any given day, a less advanced device will cover your needs.

Tracking company vehicles is not a new thing, and it's a totally legitimate practice, provided the driver of the vehicle is aware that their vehicle is being tracked. Once your tracking programme is implemented, you can expect to see higher levels of compliance and productivity.