MANAGING THE FLEET´S TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
The organization has to design and implement policies for vehicle fleet operation, such as maintenance management, breakdown management, spare parts management, control and reduction of fuel consumption, tires management, prevention and reduction of traffic accidents, or the use of owned or outsourced workshops.
The organization has to write and establish the operations manual for the fleet’s vehicles concerning their maintenance, use, safety, fuel consumption, driving, and what to do in case of an accident or breakdown. This manual has to be given and explained to every driver and/or person in charge of the vehicle.
The goal of vehicle operations is that they operate the maximum time possible in order to meet the established service level, with the least possible variable operational costs.
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The organization has to design and establish a system to prevent and reduce traffic accidents, since around 15-20% of the vehicle’s fleet has a traffic accident in a year, which represents a high cost of the organization, due to the following reasons: the vehicle won’t be used for some time for the service performance; the repairing cost; the vehicle’s substitution cost; the possible loss of the packages that are being transported; and the possibility of the driver/user or third-parties getting hurt.
Traffic accidents happen for several reasons such as mechanical failure (lack of maintenance or failure in materials), weather conditions (fog, rain, humidity or lighting), or road conditions (holes, cracks, sinking or obstacles); but the most important is the human factor, causing about 70% of traffic accidents.
Lack of experience, driving under the influence (DUI), driving while tired or sleepy, distractions, speeding or not following traffic signals are usually the most common causes of traffic accidents due to human factors.
The drivers and users have a great impact in the prevention and reduction of traffic accidents, for which there must be a fluid communication between the fleet managers and the vehicle’s drivers/users, and that these are involved in the decision-making concerning the prevention and reduction of the traffic accidents and safety.
The organization has to establish policies concerning the prevention and reduction of traffic accidents, and to assure the safety and health of the drivers and users of the vehicle. The company’s executives must support, communicate, and enforce these policies to all the people involved in fleet management. They also need to do an audit every certain period of time to assure these policies are being known and complied.
The prevention and safety policies for traffic accidents have to establish the following guidelines, which have to be audited every certain period of time. The use of vehicles; the drivers’ recruitment, characteristics and training; a bonus system for reporting traffic accidents; a system to check that the vehicles are in perfect conditions and have the maximum safety, technology and adequate safety equipment. Also, control and monitor of vehicles; a system for collecting and analyzing data; a scoreboard; the use of safe routes, and control of alcohol and drugs to the drivers. Following is the analysis of some of these.
- The use of vehicles.
The organization has to establish when and how the vehicles should be used, just like which people are authorized to use them, maximum hours a day, schedules, safety conditions, the use for private matters, speed limits, or maximum load to transport and its distribution in the vehicle.
- Driver’s recruitment, characteristics, and training.
The organization has to establish the driver’s recruitment, characteristics and training. Some of these are: the drivers must have a valid driver’s ID that’s adequate to the type of vehicles assigned to them; check that the drivers have the needed skills and abilities before using any vehicle; and the training and testing the drivers need to go through about preventing accidents and vehicle’s safety.
- Bonus system for the traffic accidents report.
Some traffic accidents aren’t reported to the organization and/or insurance company for several reasons, because of this, the organization needs to establish a bonus system so the drivers or anyone in charge of the vehicle reports every traffic accidents. This can be through economic incentives, paid holidays, establish a ranking of best drivers, or use gamification.
- System to check the vehicle is in perfect conditions to be used.
The organization has to establish a system to check the vehicle is in perfect condition and has the maximum safety conditions. In order to do this, they have to establish a planned maintenance like explained in the post fleet maintenance managementet and to check the vehicle before and after it is used.
- Adequate technology and equipment.
The organization has to establish the technology and safety equipment for the vehicles, such as assistive driving systems, Bluetooth/hands-free, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), speed control, Antilock Brake System (ABS), xenon lights, recognizing signals, parking control, blind spot monitoring, or lane departure warning.
- Control and monitor of the drivers.
The organization has to establish a control and monitor of the drivers. Like the way they drive, the number of times the driver has passed the speed limit, number of traffic accidents, number of tickets/fines or any other incidents; this control can be done in an easy way.
- Collecting and analyzing data.
The organization has to establish a system to collect and analyze data, a key aspect that has to be investigated is the cause of all traffic accidents. It’s advisable to register the following information:
- Data of chronological localization, like the date and hour of the accident
- Data or geographical localization, like the country, state and city
- Data of the type of road, like urban or highway, speed limit, exit number, circulation way, name/number of the road, number of lanes, road alignment (straight, curve, intersection), or if there was a horizontal and vertical sign
- The cause of the accident like a mechanical failure, weather conditions, road conditions, human factors. Some human factors could be lack of experience, driving under the influence, driving while tired or sleepy, distractions, speeding, or not following the traffic signs
- The consequences of traffic accidents like people being hurt, deceased, or material damages.
- The type or accidents, like mild, severe, very severe
- The vehicles status, like if the vehicle had been through maintenance or vehicle inspection
- Type of accidents, like getting out of the road (with or without flipping), collision (frontal, perpendicular, oblique, mirrored, reaching or scratching) with other vehicles, crashed, or run over a pedestrian
- By the number of people involved. It could be simple or complex, if there are pedestrians, cyclists, animals or motorcycles involved
- The weather conditions, such as rain, fog, lighting or humidity
- The road conditions such as holes, cracks, sinking or obstacles
- The characteristics of the other involved vehicles, such as type of vehicles (sedan, truck, etc.), brand and model, type of fuel, age or number of passengers.
- Data for the people involved, such as name, nationality, identification document (ID), date of birth, and gender
- Use of security elements like seat belt, helmet or child safety lock
- The data about drivers license of the involved drivers, like the type and year of expedition
- If there were alcohol/drugs tests performed, and their results
All the traffic accidents’ costs must be collected, like the repairing cost, the vehicle’s substitution cost, towing services, the possible loss of the packages that are being transported, and the damages and compensations paid to third-parties.
The obtained data is classified and analyzed to find what are the characteristics of the most common accidents (ABC analysis), and take measures to prevent and reduce them. Two of the statistics techniques that could be used to find the relation among the variables involved in traffic accidents and finding behavioral patterns are the contingency table and principal components.
The organization has to establish a scoreboard for the prevention and reduction of traffic accidents, and this has to include the following type of indicators.
1. Activity indicators: they measure the accidents and their consequences due to the vehicle’s use. Some established indicators have to be calculated every certain time, like the following: number of accidents every 100,000 kilometers/miles or the number of kilometers/miles that it takes before an accident happens; number and percentage of fleet’s vehicles that have had an accident; number of deceased; average cost of an accident; or total cost of all accidents
2. Safety levels of the vehicles and drivers indicators: these indicators measure the safety level of the vehicle and drivers. Some established indicators have to be calculated every certain time.
Some examples of the indicators that measure the safety levels are: the number of vehicles and percentage of vehicles that are older than 6 years (it has to be considered that after the 6th-7th year of the vehicle, traffic accidents increase); also, the percentage of vehicles that have safety elements like ABS, EPS, etc.; or the percentage of vehicles that passed the vehicle inspection.
Some examples of the indicators that measure the driver’s safety are the percentage of the drivers involved in an accident with a number of casualties, drivers penalized by speeding, drivers that have been charged for DUI, as well as drivers that have been penalized with traffic tickets, percentage of drivers that didn’t use the seat belt, percentage of drivers that are involved in road range or aggressive driving, and percentage of drivers that have been trained on safety measures.
- Using safe routes.
The organization has to give priority to safe routes, even if the traveling distance is longer. A system must be established to identify these routes for the drivers to use them.
- Alcohol and drug control.
The organization has to establish a system to conduct random drugs and alcohol test to their drivers. This measure could be taken depending on the current laws established in each country.
Mitchell R, Friswell R, Mooren L. 2012; Initial development of a practical safety audit tool to asses fleet safety management practices. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 47, 102-118.
I´m a Fleet Management expert, and the manager of Advanced Fleet Management Consulting, that provides Fleet Management Consultancy Services.