Smaller fleets are neglecting their fleet management obligations, according to a recent GE Capital Fleet Services study conducted in the U.K.

The study found that smaller fleet operators do not recognize the importance of risk management and duty of care issues compared to their larger counterparts. Any actions that do not meet the definition of "duty of care" could be considered negligence in a lawsuit.

The study found that 63 percent of small fleets surveyed recognized the significance of duty of care, compared to 76 percent of larger fleets.

Furthermore, 56 percent of small fleet managers are actively taking action to ensure they have a risk management program, compared to 70 percent of large fleets that already have a solution.

The study has also found that 33 percent of operators, who manage fleets with less than 100 vehicles, currently consider driver training to be important. In contrast, 50 percent of managers, who oversee fleets with more than 100 vehicles, consider training to be important.

In addition, 27 percent small fleets actively have a solution in place to train their drivers, and 25 percent have no concrete plans to ensure that their drivers are sufficiently trained in the future. This is in comparison to 57 percent of large fleets, which currently have a driver training scheme in operation, and 13 percent of large fleets, which do not have a solution or plan in place.

"It is somewhat alarming to see the failure by many small fleet operators to recognize the value of duty of care and driver training. While times are tight for many companies, safety, training and ultimate duty of care should be of the highest priority," said Gary Killeen, UK fleet commercial leader, GE Capital Fleet Services. "What's more, at a time when financial considerations are to the fore, an effective duty of care program can be as much about delivering cost savings as it is about health and safety."