Fleet management is a term used to describe the management of any/all aspects relating to a company’s vehicle
Fleet vehicles can be defined as vehicles over which a business has some degree of influence in their selection and operation.
The characteristics associated with Fleet Management are the following:
- Vehicle tracking
- This is the most basic function of fleet management and is either GPS based or based on a cellular triangulation platform
- Mechanical diagnostics
- Advanced fleet management systems connected with onboard computers gather information on distance, fuel consumption etc
- Driver behavior
- The data provided by the tracking system and onboard computers provides detail on driver behavior – a valuable tool to enhance safety on the road
The transport environment has undergone significant changes over the past few years – and so too has the importance of effective fleet management.
Advantages of Effective Road Risk Strategies by Fleet Managers
The advantages of a responsible road risk strategy include the following:
- Effective control over costs such as insurance premiums, fuel bills and repair costs.
- Ability to make informed decisions about purchasing vehicles and training drivers.
- Less time on paperwork, lowered vehicle repair and maintenance bills
- Reduced likelihood of an employee being involved in an accident.
- Reduced running costs with employees driving more professionally and efficiently.
- Drivers less fatigued and healthy
Objectives of Fleet Safety Initiatives
- Vehicle accident prevention
- Accident investigation /analysis and reporting
- Improved safety on the road
- Driver education and driver alertness
European research on Fleet Management/ Logistics and Safety
A Monash study on fleet management and safety In Europe provides insight in how different countries approach this issue:
- In Sweden the approach with regards to fleet safety has been that of “quality management of the transport component of the enterprise [whether government or private] Quality assurance of transport aims to ensure that people and goods arrive at the right place, at the right time and in the right way (i.e. without danger of serious injury or damage to the goods or the environment in connection with the transport). Thus there is a linking of road safety and environmental outcomes.
- In France, there has been a program to increase the involvement of private companies in road safety related to their use of vehicles. Agreements have been drawn up between government, insurance companies, the national occupational health fund and volunteer companies. The programs focus on motivating companies to undertake road safety programs by increasing the knowledge of the cost of road crashes to the company and by decreasing workers compensation and vehicle insurance premiums if programs are implemented. Some of the programs have concentrated on drink driving because of its large role in both work- and non-work-related road crashes in France.
- In Germany the Traffic Safety Council has promoted the establishment of voluntary safety circles in which employees from the company vehicle fleet meet together to discuss critical points and devise solutions under the leadership of an experienced moderator. It also runs a one-day training course in "Safe, Economical and Environmentally Friendly Driving".
- In the United Kingdom, various measures have been implemented to improve road safety within organisations. They include driver training programs, incentive schemes, penalties, accident reviews, driver monitoring systems and driver feedback procedures. It is unclear whether these measures have had an effect.
Technology and the possible impact on Fleet Management and Road Safety
Fleet Management companies invest large amounts in research and development - enabling operators to have better control over their fleets. Onboard computers provide fleet managers with detailed reports on behavior of both driver and vehicle. These reports are used to modify driver behavior and can also be used in accident prevention, accident analysis and reconstruction.
The most important technologies to impact on road safety are:
- The Tachograph – used effectively in many countries for the commercial transport of goods and passengers. Data recorded include driving time, road speed, distance travelled, engine load etc.
- The Accident Data Recorder – developed to provide details on the causes of accidents.
Advantages of effective Onboard Technology for Road Safety
- Accident Data and Analysis provide evidence
- Accurate reports save time in accident reconstruction and legal proceedings
- Effective Control by the Fleet Manager
- Driver behavior can be monitored and short - comings addressed
- Reduction of Liability and Maintenance Costs
International findings on effectiveness of Accident Data Recorders
Case Study: Police of Berlin
Fitting all 62 patrol cars of a Berlin police head office in 1996 with Accident Data Recorders reduced the number of accidents due to the driver's own fault by 20% and by 36% in emergency-trips. The cost involved could be reduced by approx. 25%. These positive results induced the Berlin police authority to equip all their patrol cars -these are more than 400 vehicles -with the Accident Data Recorder.
Case Study: WBO (Association of Baden-Württemberg Bus Operators)
In the pilot run promoted by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport with the Accident Data Recorder installed in busses run by WBO 123 Accident Data Recorders were involved. With the busses fitted with an Accident Data Recorder the number of accidents decreased between 15 and 20% compared with the reference period, depending of the company concerned.
Case Study: Samovar
In Great-Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium nine vehicle fleets with a total of 341 vehicles fitted with data recording equipment participated in the research program SAMOVAR (Safety Assessment Monitoring on Vehicles with Automatic Recording) conducted by the European Union in the framework of the Drive Project V 2007.
Together with a control panel involved in similar tests a total of 850 vehicles participated in the program. The data were collected over a period of 12 months. The result shows that the accident rate decreased by 28.1% by the use of the vehicle data recorder.
[Information from a Paper by Dr. Gerhard Lehmann and Tony Reynolds titled “The Contribution of Onboard Recording Systems to Road Safety and Accident Analysis”]
From the above it is evident that Fleet Management can and should make a significant contribution toward enhancing road safety. In South Africa most accidents are the result of driver error/ lawlessness – and Fleet Management Technology can contribute towards changing behavior of many drivers.
For more information on Fleet Management and the impact on Road Safety in South Africa –
Also visit the following sections:
Vehicle Telematics, Accident Investigation and Fleet Management
Ctrack Vehicle Tracking Survey 2011 in UK
Fleet Insurance for Commercial Vehicles and Road Safety