Cutting road fatalities in the grey fleet

Road crashes in Australia represent the most common form of work related fatalities and driving for work is considered one of the riskiest at work activities. One particular area that is most problematic in regards to risk and safety management is grey fleet. 

Grey Fleet is the proportion of work vehicles used for work purposes owned by the driver or another entity rather than being directly provided by the organisation employing the driver. 

In order to address Grey Fleet risk and often neglected driving safety issues, the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) Grey Fleet Working Group is releasing a guide to help organisations improve their existing systems and provide direction on how to implement better practices when it comes to grey fleet. 

In an exclusive interview with NRSPP manager Jerome Carslake says work related vehicles are the highest risk to any organisation and employee. 

"Organisations will focus risk management processes on previously established traditional risks that often relate to their core business or general operational environment. For example, risks associated with office ergonomics such as is your computer set up the right way? Is the power plug audited? Are there any exposed cords? In field based industries working in particularly harsh environments or with particularly hazardous material, there are all these systems in place to protect people but a lot of organisations don’t understand the greatest risk to their employee is driving on the road,” said Carslake.

“Safework Australia states two thirds of workplace fatalities involve a vehicle and half of them are directly from a related crash Work undertaken by NRSPP found that organisations are increasing the size of their Grey Fleet as a potential economic solution to reducing the size and costs associated with their traditional fleet. Although increasing Grey Fleet can provide initial economic benefit the transport tasks and consequently work driving risk remain the same or even increase."

Carslake says one of the key questions in the report is if you want to provide a safe workplace how do you ensure people using Grey Fleet are properly insured? 

“The moment a person begins to drive for work related purposes the safety risk increases and exposure begins to double because you’re on the road a lot more. The insurer will change the premium which is a cost pushed back on to the employee. It also raises questions like is the vehicle well maintained? What are the skills and safe driving capability of the driver? Are Grey Fleet drivers properly licensed? What is their driving history? What journey management systems are in place? The idea of the guide is to begin to explore how organisations can identify the systems that they have in place with their grey fleet.”

“The risk is also not a one size fits all. An employee might be an occasional driver that drives once a month or someone that drives every couple of weeks and then there are those people on the road more than 10 hours a week that are part of a sales force. The guide is about providing organisations with simple measures to start with and as the organisation moves forward and better manages the risks, the guide further assists organisational improvement. The guide is designed as a living document with the aim of going back and revisiting the strategies and processes over time. The working group is also committed to improving and revising the guide in the future.” 

In addition to the guide, a one-off pilot study with the University of Melbourne will commence over the next few months and will be a randomised controlled trail designed to explore whether grey fleet vehicles are more at risk than company owned vehicles. Data will be collected using an On-Board Diagnostic (OBD-II) unit and participating organisations will be allocated 50 devices. Once the data is collected it will be scored using telematics. 

Carslake suggests as people develop and manage their own fleet they can continue to improve on the guide.

“Organisations can provide feedback on how they do things so we can build that into it as well. We’ve had a fantastic response from organisations. Throughout the guide, there are case studies so we are trying to make it real and each of the case studies is based on different organisations we have engaged with plus they are all anonymous in the guide.” 

“We have to sow the seeds, and be constructive so the risk management approach is not all about the driver but is a systems based approach.” 

“The NRSPP is a supporting element of Vision Zero in Australia, and everyone is doing their part to share the responsibility and take ownership of improving road safety. We are providing input and questioning the way we mobilise workplaces and encourage organisations to become involved and reduce risk on the road. We are also trying to raise a better understanding of work driving safety risk,” said Carslake. 

“Safe driving brings a safer driving culture into an organisation and costs become lower as a result of less incidents, less speeding and less wear and tear on the vehicle. A culture of courtesy can also provide benefits and leadership plays an important part in transferring a safer more courteous culture throughout the organisation.”

“The NRSPP Grey Fleet Safety Management Guide is a valuable resource to assist leadership in creating a safe driving culture.”


Image sourced from Flickr cc: Lise Vanasse 



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