What is the ‘new normal’?
What will ‘normal’ look like post-lockdown? There is renewed focus on getting us back to work – but there is no doubt that this will introduce new challenges in its own right.
For organisations that manage fleets of vehicles, one central challenge is how to reinstate vehicles that have been mothballed. What are the key considerations?
Mothballing & Reinstating Vehicles
Most of us have left a vehicle unattended for a week or two when we have gone on holiday, and so are familiar with issues like the risk of a flat battery. As we have blogged previously, when vehicles are off the road for longer than this, it is important to move them regularly to prevent flat areas developing on the tyres, and to turn the aircon systems on every so often because the gas acts as a lubricant for the whole system.
The longer a vehicle is unused, or mothballed, the more considerations you need to make. You should, for example, open the bonnet not just to check the oil levels, but to check for nesting birds or small animals and for any damage from rodents chewing through wires. Ensuring regular checks whilst your vehicles are off the road will help make the transition back to something approaching normal far smoother.
What about your drivers?
But there is a whole other dimension to preparing for a return to normality, and that applies to your drivers. Furloughed drivers may well have spent weeks or months not getting behind the wheel at all, even if they have been driving their own car. Drivers of commercial vehicles could quite easily have suffered what we call ‘skill fade’ and require a little time to get back into the swing of things. Equally, car drivers will be going back on the roads with much higher levels of traffic than we have grown used to.
Fleet managers should think carefully about this and consider how best to check that their drivers remain appropriately skilled and confident to undertake their duties. In some instances, it might even make sense to run driver refresher training.
There will also be a great many logistical challenges involved in managing the return to work, including the practicalities of making sure that vehicles which have had extensions to their MOTs do still get checked and serviced in good time. Garages are likely to be backed up, so our advice would be to look to phase in your vehicle and driver re-introductions. Try if you can to pre-empt when you aim to get back to work in order to pre-book vehicles for checks and tests; this will reduce overall time off the roads.
Get prepared now for when we can get back to normality – which is what we’re all looking forward to.