Vehicle and Fleet Management
Safety and Security

Duty of Care

Whether vehicles are owned or rented, it is essential to ensure that movements are carried out safely, both for the occupants of the vehicle and for other users of the road. It should be noted that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death globally among people between the ages of 5 and 29. Furthermore, of the total number of deaths from traffic accidents worldwide (1.35 million per year), 90% occurs in low and middle-income countries.

According to Aid Worker Security Report 2020, the most dangerous place for aid workers in general remains the while in a vehicle on the road, especially where law enforcement may be relaxed, and where armed groups and criminal elements can easily set up illegitimate checkpoints, roadblocks or improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or carry out armed ambushes on humanitarian actors and convoys. Although security management often falls under the responsibility of other persons with an aid agency, it is encouraged to exchange regular information and to integrate as much as possible safety and security procedures into fleet management working processes.

Basic Minimum Standards

To ensure that movements are carried out safely, logistics must actively work on three key elements:

  • Movement planning.
  • Vehicle safety.
  • Driver and team’s competence.

Though, in the first instance, organisations should seek to control risk on the road by reducing or eliminating the need to travel.

  1. Regarding Movement planning, it is recommended to make an “in-depth” analysis of threats and vulnerabilities linked to vehicle movements, plan movements accordingly and create adequate travel protocols as per context and movement type. Additionally, an integral system for movement tracking and follow-up adapted to the context should be implemented.
  2. Vehicle safety includes the good mechanical condition of all parts of the vehicle in motion, and to the extent possible, avoiding accidents; braking, steering, suspension, adherence to the ground (tires) and lights. Vehicle safety also includes elements that minimise the damage that can occur when the accident occurs: airbags, functioning seat belts, headrests, and windows/bodywork.
  3. The driver and team's competence encompasses: personal skills, physical condition, knowledge of the environment and awareness of potential hazards and the ability to properly manage possible critical situations: such as weather events, accidents, check-points, demonstrations, harassment.

Vehicle Accidents

Agencies are strongly advised to design and implement an internal management system for vehicle accidents. The system should include: reporting mechanisms, basics on crash management, and analysis and reporting on road crashes. When possible and available, all tools should be coordinated together with security managers.

Reporting a road traffic crash, or a potentially unsafe situation such as a near miss is the first step to reducing future crashes. Anytime a vehicle is involved an accident, near miss or other incident, an accident/incident report form should be filled out, detailing all information pertaining to the accident. If operating in an area with functioning police, a police report should be filled out if required, and all information on witness and other vehicles should be capture. A report should only be filled out after the vehicle and persons are safe and free from additional danger, and after all injuries have been attended to. It is recommended that blank copies of accident/incident report forms accompany each vehicle. Fleet Forum offers a comprehensive crash data analysis tool, including actions to take at a crash scene, capturing information at-the-scene and driver post-crash report, insurance claims, and basics on logging and recording information about a crash. 

Policies relating to how drivers/passengers should respond to a crash vary from agency to agency. As a general guide:

  • Drivers nor passengers should ever admit fault at any location other than safely back at the office/compound with a security officer present. If a driver or vehicle is at fault, it should be settled by insurance.
  • National regulations may require a vehicle to come to a full stop and wait for a police report before a vehicle can move after an accident. The need to stop should be context specific, however - if the area is unsafe, large crowds are gathering, or local law doesn't require it, vehicle may choose to move to a safer location.
  • Payments and negotiations for damages should never occur on the scene, nor should they be undertaken by the driver or occupants. All exchange of money and negotiations should occur in a safe location, and between authorised persons following the regulations of the law and respective insurance companies.

Special Movements

Special movements vehicle movements that require special planning and organisation.

Typical special movements might be:

  • Movements with heavy planning requirements.
    • Exploratory missions into unknown areas.
    • Convoy travels.
  • Movements of special items.
    • Transport of dangerous goods.
    • Transport of valuable assets.
    • Transport of special passengers (patients, kids, human remains).
  • Movements of special vehicle types.
    • Ambulance services.
    • Armoured vehicles.

Usually, two or more of the above listed movements are combined. For instance, an organisation may plan a convoy because of the inherent value of the transported assets.

Basic considerations for any special movements are:

Movements in Unknown Areas

  • Organise the planned movement well in advance.
  • Minimise the number of passengers.
  • Define the roles and responsibilities among the team members. Ensure that at least one driver plus a passenger are in each vehicle.
  • Communicate with relevant stakeholders in the area and assess their capacity to deliver assistance in case of need. Inform them about the journey schedule and itinerary.
  • Assistance may be unavailable: bring vehicle recovery kit. A second vehicle is highly recommended in order to provide assistance in case of severe breakdown.
  • Resources could be scarce: bring food and water.
  • Depending on the duration of the journey and if overnights are possible, consider bringing additional fuel and the appropriate number of sleeping sets.
  • Assess communication networks in the areas of the planned movement
  • Bring several communication devices using different technologies.
  • Ensure one person is monitoring the movement and recording all milestones through the planned journey. Allocate a back-up for this person.

Convoy Movements

  • Define positioning within the convoy, especially the first and the last car in the convoy.
  • Define the distance between convoy elements.
  • Allocate sufficient time for preparation before departure.
  • Agree on basic procedures to be applicable by the vehicles to ensure certain discipline within the convoy: departure, stop-over and contingency plans for common scenarios: vehicle breakdown, accident, checkpoints, etc.
  • Define which are the communication means internally and external to the convoy. Agree on the hierarchies.
  • Compile a vehicles list, drivers list, passengers list and any other list that could be useful during the journey.

Movement of Dangerous Goods

Transport of Valuable Assets

  • Be discrete. Don’t disclose the nature of the movement.
  • Inform the occupants of the vehicle about the nature of the movement, but not in advance. Give them the chance to decline the assignment and remain at departure point if not comfortable.
  • Avoid regularly scheduled movements, schedule for different days and different hours.
  • Consider organising as part of a convoy.
  • Reduce the number of stopovers to those strictly necessary.

Transport of Special Passengers

(patients, kids, human remains, etc.)

  • Ensure that the vehicle is fit for purpose and has the necessary equipment to transport the specific passengers.
  • Have clear rules on who is allowed to travel and in which conditions: who authorises the passenger, how much luggage is allowed, safety considerations, point(s) of destination, etc.
  • Brief passengers about the movement: schedule, itinerary, stopovers, etc. Consider including information about the return trip.
  • If minors are transported, they should be always accompanied by an adult.

Ambulance Services

  • Ensure that the vehicle is fit for purpose and has the necessary equipment and medical supplies to transport patients.
  • Children patients should always be accompanied by an adult.
  • One medical staff should be present during the transfer in case medical needs are required.
  • Provide basic PPE and Infection Control SOPs and training to the staff working in the ambulance to avoid cross infection from transported patients.
  • If the patient is seriously ill, inform the receiving medical facility in advance that the patient being transferred.
  • If providing oxygen to the patient, for safety purposes, oxygen concentrators are a preferred option rather than Oxygen cylinders.

Armoured Vehicles (AVs)

  • Ensure that the vehicle is fit for purpose and is armoured according to the threats present in the area of operation: armoured steel floor, armoured rear cargo area, etc.
  • Technical specifications should be provided by a subject matter expert.
  • Consider import and export restrictions, and any laws regarding use of the vehicle around the planned area of movement.
  • Ensure that drivers have gone through specific training programs and certification required for AVs.
  • The costs of managing a fleet of AV increases significantly compared with a fleet of regular vehicles.
  • Maintenance of AVs requires specialised knowledge and capacity as vehicle configuration differs from regular vehicles, especially the electronic components. Spare parts are often manufacturer specific, and can be very hard to come by.
  • All communication equipment must be operable from the inside, which may impact some communications devices such as regular mobile phones. Additional communication equipment and specific installation and setup will be required.
  • Disposal at end of life is not easy and should be planned far in advance.
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