By Randy Shadley, CAFM
Did you know that 20% of a fleet’s vehicles will be involved in a crash each year?
That’s the number that most often appears when you do an Internet search on “average crash rate for fleet vehicles.” So, how do your numbers compare? Unless you are far below that average (think 10% or less), you know you could make a huge improvement for your organization. If only your management would let you spend a little money you could save a lot (of money, productivity, even lives!). But how do you get them to loosen the purse strings? Today’s column focuses on just that.
A frustrating reality of the fleet safety industry is that it can be difficult to determine how many lives were saved, injuries were prevented, or budgets were spared as a direct result of your actions. I mean, how can you prove that a crash did not happen just because of the policies and procedures you implemented? Sound impossible?
I submit that if a fleet compares its previous crash metrics (e.g. preventable crashes per million miles traveled fleet-wide or per 100 vehicles in service) and continues to measure those metrics after fleet safety actions are taken, it is not unreasonable to conclude that any difference can be attributed to those actions.
Therefore, by assigning a dollar amount to crashes one can quantify the Return On Investment from your efforts. The collision categories commonly measured are:
• Crash with fatal injury
• Crash with non-fatal injuries
• Crash with no injuries
If you do not have those figures available for your own fleet it may be helpful to simply use NHTSA’s data from their report “The Economic Burden of Traffic Crashes on Employers (2003),” where they reported the following average crash costs:
• Crash with fatal injury: Over $500K per crash
• Crash with non-fatal injuries: $74K
• Crash with no injuries: $16.5K
(A helpful and comprehensive worksheet tool for determining your actual costs can be found on page 32 of the OSHA/NHTSA/NETS publication “Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes”).
The average costs shown in NHTSA’s report, published in 2003 using year 2000 data, have undoubtedly risen dramatically since then. Even so, multiplying those documented 2000 figures by the number of crashes in your fleet should help demonstrate the magnitude of the issue, and ideally get management’s attention.
So now what?
The OSHA guide mentioned above also contains a great deal of other valuable information, including “NETS’ 10-Step Program to Minimize Crash Risk.” I suggest you review their recommendations to see what your program might be missing. Once you’ve identified opportunities for improvement you might want to enlist the services of experts in the field. Many companies offer programs that, after auditing your fleet’s current fleet safety program, can project (and sometimes even guarantee!) the amount of savings that can be realized. Just think: a 1000 vehicle fleet with a 20% crash rate, using NHTSA’s $16.5K average cost figure spends $3,300,000 annually. Improving that crash rate by just 15% saves that company nearly half a million dollars each year!
Having a comprehensive fleet safety program in place contributes directly to your organization’s bottom line. There is not much more that can be done in your fleet program if you are already controlling your fleet’s lifecycle costs — minimizing the acquisition cost of your vehicles, maximizing their resale, and controlling fuel and maintenance operating costs — but making just a slight improvement in your fleet’s crash rate will result in substantial savings, cost avoidance, and most importantly, help keep your employees safe and productive.
Randy Shadley, CAFM, has an extensive background in fleet safety management, both as a corporate fleet safety manager and a manager for a fleet accident and safety provider. He is Account Manager and Fleet Safety Specialist at Corporate Claims Management and leads his own company, ProFleet Solutions, LLC. There he uses his “big fleet” expertise to help smaller companies improve their fleet and fleet safety programs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 472 – 2227 if you would like a free, no obligation review of your current programs.