The Question

How can an organisation encourage heavy vehicle drivers to take more care of their vehicles to minimise avoidable damage from minor collisions?

A common problem

Minor collisions are low-impact collisions that result in minor damage to the vehicle, such as bumps, scratches, dents and scrapes.

For some heavy vehicle fleets, minor collisions are common; for larger fleets, they can be a weekly occurrence. For many of the NRSPP partners interviewed for this Q&A, truck minor collisions are much more frequent than  high severity crashes. The frequency of minor collisions can depend on the environment the fleet operates in and they tend to be more common when vehicles are frequently operating in high-density environments.

Minor collision but major cost

Minor collisions are often overlooked or dismissed by fleet managers and drivers, who take the attitude that they are ‘part of the job’. However, minor collisions can have significant financial and safety costs as well serious consequences, particularly for light vehicle drivers’ trucks share the road with.

Financial cost

Cumulative costs for minor collisions can reach into the thousands, and include repairs to the heavy vehicle, time off the road, and repairs to third party light vehicles.

Safety cost

Minor collisions can be a near-miss indicator of serious or fatal crashes. The difference between a minor collision and a serious crash can be a matter of seconds or metres. This is particularly relevant for heavy vehicles, who pose a higher risk of injury to other road users, particularly pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, due to their size and mass (Raftery et al., 2011).

Reputational cost

Frequent minor collisions can pose a significant reputational damage for a fleet. Professional drivers represent their organisation on the road, and careless or dangerous driving behaviour directly impacts an organisation’s image.