By Adv Johan Jonck, Arrive Alive
Recent horrific crashes in KwaZulu-Natal involving trucks have once more firmly put the spotlight on fleet vehicles and our ability to control our drivers and their vehicles. There’s clearly a need to improve safety across South Africa’s logistics fleets. Vehicle crash data suggests that logistics-type vehicles are disproportionately involved in fatal crashes. Are we able to better control the transport of freight and what is needed to make our roads safer?
The main 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 behaviour measurement: The data provided by the tracking system and onboard computers provides detail on driver behaviour – 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.
What should be the objectives of fleet safety initiatives?
- Vehicle accident prevention.
- Accident investigation, analysis and reporting.
- Improved safety on the road.
- Driver education and driver alertness.
Technology and the possible impact on fleet management and road safety
Fleet Management companies invest large amounts of research and development, enabling operators to have better control over their fleets. Onboard computers provide fleet managers with detailed reports on the behaviour of both driver and vehicle.
These reports are used to modify driver behaviour and can also be used in accident prevention, accident analysis and reconstruction.
The most important technologies to impact on road safety
The most important traditional technologies 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.
Onboard camera technology – a very important tool in crash investigation and keeping drivers aware that any unsafe and reckless actions may have dire consequences. A new generation of smart dashcams is set play a leading role in helping fleet managers improve various key performance indicators – and improve road safety for all road users in the process.
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 behaviour can be monitored, and shortcomings addressed.
- Reduction of liability and maintenance costs.
Driver behaviour, pre-vehicle inspection and route optimisation are critical contributors to better fleet management, fuel usage and ultimately cost saving. Through effective fleet management transporters are empowered to proactively implement measures that will result in long-term benefits for their company. Ultimately, the company can also reduce costs related to driver mismanagement while simultaneously improving a driver’s skills and their performance on the road.
This will indeed make roads safer for all.