Safety 101 - Lesson 18

As we continue to examine various business safety applications to those in emergency services, the relationship of vehicle safety to "fleet management" is a logical relationship to investigate and analyze.

A business-oriented fleet management plan is designed to establish short and long range processes, goals and objectives which will improve vehicle performance effectiveness and efficiency, while considering specific organizational usage requirements. Incumbent in this process is fleet/vehicle safety. This includes establishment and implementation of fleet (vehicle safety) policies and procedures.

In fact, if we were to examine any organization (business, municipality/city, fire department, trucking firm, EMS agency, law enforcement agency, delivery or service firm, etc.) with a large number of vehicles, a fleet management plan is probably in use.

Each such fleet management plan will have goals and/or objectives it is attempting to accomplish for business purposes. If the fleet is not able to operate efficiently and safely, none of the organization's daily operational goals will be achieved.

Two examples provide us with the overall concept of fleet management and its integrations with vehicle safety, through their program objectives. Illustration #1 is a public entity. They have implemented a set of program goals which include:

  • Reduce the number of passenger vehicles by 10%
  • Analyze the cost/benefit of various fleet financing options
  • Analyze the potential for savings through contracted vehicle maintenance
  • Enhance the existing fleet policies, procedures, and practices
  • Fully implement the statewide fleet information system
  • Implement a new vehicle pre-approval process
  • Revise the state vehicle policy to further reduce the number of commuting vehicles, analyzing mileage reimbursement.
  • Create a certified fleet manager program
  • Implement Trans-Tech recommendations

Illustration #2 is an educational facility which has fewer goals, nonetheless is focused on vehicle operations and safety, just as Illustration #1. The establishment of fleet management program and goals has to be customized to the organization, not something that is "canned". Illustration #2's goals include:

  • "to select and utilize operators of University-owned or controlled vehicles who have satisfactory or better driving records",
  • "to create mechanisms to assist in the safe and proper maintenance, registration and insurance of university-owned or controlled vehicles",
  • "to create mechanisms to assist the university to select qualified drivers to operate fleet vehicles in a safe and courteous fashion that reflects positively on the university".

These objectives drive performance expectations of managers (chiefs), supervisors (lower level officers), and employees (emergency responders). For many emergency service organizations, fleet costs for maintenance and fuel are critical components. Basic operational fleet management initiatives drive these work practices and components.

To demonstrate the relationship between fleet management and vehicle safety, five key areas are pointed out in the article "A Best Practices Approach to Fleet Safety". The article illustrates the impact five best practices (noted below) that have been used by organizations to reduce their fleet vehicle crash rate and protect their drivers. The best practices noted relate not just to safety, but to efficient routine operations, and include:

  • A program with "something (activities/interventions/etc.) for everyone",
  • Training for new employees,
  • Identify and provide interventions for high-risk drivers,
  • Active involvement of mid-level managers (a group that has significant influence over their direct reports), and
  • An ongoing commitment of resources to sustain long term fleet safety performance gains.

These illustrate several essential components of a fleet management/fleet safety program. The next Safety 101 segment will detail a comprehensive best practices approach for emergency service organizations.

Similarly, "Energy Policy Acts" set forth statutory requirements for alternative fuels and state-of-the-art business practices may support the outsourcing of repairs and maintenance (particularly if your organization does not have a Certified Emergency Vehicle Technician on staff) and/or the cooperative purchasing of parts. These regulations, state-of-the-art practices, and benchmarks to compare fleet performance from year to year are the "New World Order" for managing the vehicles in your emergency service organization; and are illustrative of more comprehensive fleet management practices that should be handled by your organization's individual responsible for vehicles.

Lesson #18
A comprehensive fleet management program forms the basis for routine, SAFE, vehicle operations.

Safety 101 - A new series from the technical and administrative perspective, designed to help you reduce emergency responder injuries, illnesses, property loss and death!

Related Safety 101 Articles:

Dr. William F. Jenaway, CSP, CFO, CFPS is Executive Vice President of VFIS and has over 30 years experience in Safety and Risk Management, in the insurance industry. Bill is also an adjunct professor in Risk Analysis in the Graduate School at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He was named "Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year" as Chief of the King of Prussia, PA, Volunteer Fire Company, and is the author the text Emergency Service Risk Management.