Car sharing - do you really know what you’re getting into?
When it comes to business travel, safety is vital. However, with the recent rise of budget car sharing services, how can you genuinely guarantee your safety and that of your employees?
What is car sharing?
Car sharing offers an alternative to taxi or chauffeur services. Car sharing services like Uber X and Lyft are able to operate at a cheaper price point as they promote themselves as technology companies rather than taxis or chauffeur services. They therefore claim to fall outside of many legal requirements - particularly when it comes to health and safety. While illegal in Australia for unaccredited transport services to tout for fares, the rise of technology has given car sharing organisations an ability to secure business without the regulations that control other authorised transport providers. Unfortunately, the law is yet to catch up with this scenario. While car sharing companies claim to be technology businesses, their drivers are clearly engaging in passenger transport - and therefore, are putting themselves and their passengers at risk.
Where and how does car sharing fall short?
Largely uncontrolled and self-governed, car sharing companies fall short in several key areas:
- Insurance. In Australia, authorised commercial taxi and chauffeur services are required to purchase commercial (rather than private) CTP and related insurance. Commercial insurance has a considerably higher premium than private insurance, due to commercial providers’ increased time on the road and therefore, their increased incident risk. Accordingly, however, they have full coverage if something happens to a passenger or their property. By comparison, car sharing companies are not required to take out full commercial insurance, and their drivers are operating with private CTP and related policies. This means if they are engaged commercially at the time of an incident, there will be no coverage for the passenger in terms of injury, property damage or even death.
- Driver accreditation. Any commercial Australian driver is also legally required to obtain a driver authority, which includes a police check, driving record and general suburb knowledge test clearance. Drivers for car sharing companies, however, are simply privately screened by the organisation itself - a process that carries some inherent risks.
- Vehicle standards. Commercial taxi and chauffeur services are also required to adhere to certain maintenance standards for safety reasons - requirements that simply don’t exist for car sharing businesses.
- Complaints resolution processes. Government-regulated transport providers have established processes for lodging complaints and for the ongoing monitoring of their drivers. Car sharing companies set their own processes - which may, or may not, be adequate.
The importance of using authorised drivers
While car sharing may appear initially appealing due to its lower up-front costs, it also comes with some fairly significant risks. Perhaps the biggest concern is that you don’t really know who the drivers are, or what their qualifications may be. While car sharing companies claim to have their own checks and controls in place, the risk of getting a potentially unsuitable driver can be quite significant. There have also been several recent examples of self regulation failing customers. Currently, for instance, Uber is looking to more than double their current driver base within the next 12 months - a mass recruitment process that will inevitably result in a decrease in service and driver skill.
Once your business starts clocking up thousands of hours of travel per year, an employee being involved in an on-road incident with an unqualified and unsuitable driver also becomes an undesirable probability. While the contemporary branding and low price point of car sharing companies may appear initially appealing, their lack of adherence to health and safety obligations presents an unacceptable level of risk - particularly when it comes to their lack of sufficient insurance coverage.
So what’s the alternative?
Rather than moving your business from taxis to car sharing, why not consider a private chauffeur service? There are some fairly important benefits, which include:
- Cost. Did you know that a chauffeur service, despite offering clean and comfortable late model vehicles, and professional suited drivers, can cost as little as a 5- 25% premium on a standard taxi rate? While car sharing and taxis may seem more affordable initially, it’s important to factor in the costs associated with the uncertainty of bookings, the unpredictability of metered costs, and the time associated expense receipt processing. It’s also worth considering the considerable amount of lost productivity that your staff spend waiting in lengthy airport taxi queues, or waiting for the next available driver. With a chauffeur service, your driver will always be awaiting at the agreed time.
- Ease of use. A chauffeur services provides you with clear visibility on your business’ ground transport spend, and eliminates the headaches of processing expense claims. Your people can also book transport quickly and easily, with the guarantee of pre-approved fixed fares.
- Superior service. Unlike a taxi service, which has an ongoing source of work regardless of the service levels they provide, chauffeur services rely on advance bookings, and therefore tend to maintain a much higher and consistent level of professionalism and service.
- Safety. Chauffeur drivers are fully compliant with local legislative requirements and have the required insurances as part of their accreditation requirements
- Tracking and control. With a chauffeur service, you can track all vehicles and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your people are travelling with safe, accredited and familiar drivers.
Want to learn more?
GPU is a reputable, international chauffeur service based in Australia. We offer high quality transport for business travel and events. Visit www.gpu.travel to learn more or make an online booking, or contact us on 1300 648 688.