In 2015, the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) recognised the value of a national forum specifically for utility businesses from around the country. The first event took place in Glenelg, Adelaide hosted by SA Power Networks and has now become a strongly supported annual forum bringing together major utility organisations from around Australia. This sector is characterised by complex and diverse fleets and the forum provides an opportunity to identify common transport risks and how they may be mitigated.

The overriding purpose of the event is to provide a forum where organisations from the utilities sector can discuss their major transport risks, how they are mitigated, benchmark road safety performance and how the KPIs are influenced. In 2018, the forum was held in Sydney, hosted by APA Group (APA) and was again strongly represented by utilities from across the country. The day prior to the forum delegates were also offered two unique opportunities, the first was a visit to Crashlab to watch a live ANCAP crash test, and the second a networking dinner including an informal Q&A with Professor Ann Williamson and Dr Carmel Harrington on driver distraction, sleep and fatigue.

The forum achieved the following key outcomes:
• Through the Utilities Forum Template, which partners completed ahead of the day, an understanding of participants’ capabilities and limitations with respect to fleet management data and key lag and lead safety performance indicators.
• A strong industry specific repository of fleet profile and risk data.
• Understanding of key safety issues common throughout the participant group including;
• Facilitated sharing of learnings and information on what worked for other organisations, what did not work and what pro active approaches have been implemented by other organisations.
• The development of a strong peer network that was evident through the formal sessions and continued informally throughout breaks during the day and the evening’s networking event.
• The industry led development of solutions to organisational transport risks, specifically, developing and implementing innovative fleet safety and management solutions through peer network.
• Developing improved driver and fleet safety culture, reducing vehicle incidents and near misses while maintaining peer communications and learnings on fleet safety and management.
• Recognition by participants that the forum fulfilled expectations, and that they will continue to engage with the working group and attend future events.

At the conclusion of the forum, participants were asked to provide feedback on the event. A short questionnaire covering aspects of the profile template, workshop format, content and delivery was provided.

Overall feedback was overwhelmingly positive and the outcomes, comments and feedback documented during the event provide strong support for the continuation of the program in a manner and frequency to be determined by the working group.

The 2018 forum really focused on discussion and networking between partners around key topics and risks. A criticism of the 2017 forum was there was not enough discussion time allocated which based on the feedback was addressed. In fact, the partners want more in 2019 on the systems and managing risks and less on lead / lag indicators. The Chatham House rules and strong trust built over the four years has helped with the forum dynamics.

The forum agreed that another will be held in 2019 with the date and location yet to be finalised.