Work-related vehicle crashes are the single largest cause of fatal occupational injury in Australia. There are also many more vehicle crashes that result in injuries and/or vehicle damage, representing a significant preventable cost to the community. There is a wealth of information that describes the various risk factors for road trauma and a range of these risk factors are amenable to control by employers. However, there are few studies that investigate management practices used for light vehicle fleets (i.e. vehicles, such as cars and vans less than 4.5 tonnes).

One of the impediments to obtaining and sharing information on effective fleet safety management is the lack of an evidence-based, standardised measurement tool for light vehicle fleet safety that would allow organisations to consistently benchmark their performance. This research aimed to develop an audit tool to assess fleet safety management practices in light vehicle fleets and to trial the usability of the fleet safety audit tool in several organisations. This work is the necessary first step in the creation of a standard measurement tool to assess fleet safety management practices.

The fleet safety management audit tool was developed by triangulating information from three sources that included a review of the published literature on fleet safety management practices supplemented by semi-structured interviews with 15 fleet managers and 21 fleet drivers. The useability of the audit tool was then assessed with 5 organisations not involved in the audit tool development phase.

The audit tool assesses the management of fleet safety against five core categories of practice that were identified from the literature and interviews as being associated with fleet safety. These categories are:

  1. management, systems and processes;
  2. monitoring and assessment;
  3. employee recruitment, training and education;
  4. vehicle technology, selection and maintenance; and
  5. vehicle journeys.

Each of these five categories consists of between 1 and 3 sub-categories. Organisations are rated at one of 4 levels on each subcategory to indicate the degree to which they implement fleet safety management best practice in that area. Importantly, the ratings are grounded in tangible practices that can be objectively assessed. Overall, useability assessments of the audit tool rated it easy to use and understand and potentially useful for benchmarking fleet safety performance.

The useability assessments identified several improvements that could be made to the tool, including the inclusion of safety and emergency equipment within fleet safety management criteria and the addition of a lettering system to help users differentiate the criteria for the different levels of each sub-category.

The fleet safety audit tool was designed to identify the extent to which fleet safety is managed in an organisation against best practice. The audit tool can be used to conduct audits within an organisation to provide an indicator of progress in managing fleet safety and it can be used to benchmark performance with other organisations. Further development work is now required to validate the audit tool categories and scoring in the wider population of light vehicle fleets, to confirm the relationship between audit tool scores and organisational fleet safety outcomes, and to ensure the tool remains current as new evidence about effective fleet safety management practices becomes available.