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Table of Contents

Common terms

Four Wheel Drive (4WD) vehicle

Specific type of vehicles able to transfer traction from the engine to the front and rear axis, enabling the grip to its 4 wheels. Also referred as “all terrain” vehicles.


4 wheels motorized vehicle commonly used for transport of people.

Discharge of Liability

A printed form signed by passengers not working for the organization operating the vehicle, discharging the agency of any legal claims in case of accident.


The person operating the vehicle. He/she must hold a valid driving license specific to the type of vehicle.


A set of assets with similar characteristics and jointly managed. Vehicle fleet refers to a set of vehicles managed to achieve a particular operational purpose.


Combustible material, in the automotive industry normally in liquid form, that when burnt releases the energy required to power the mechanic engine in the vehicle. Petrol and Diesel are the most common fuels used for road motorized vehicles. Jet-A1 is the most common fuel used for air vehicles.

Fuel voucher

Printed form used to access fuel under certain agreement with a particular fuel station. The holder of the fuel voucher will receive a specific amount of fuel on behalf of the organization in exchange of the voucher. This is a common practice to avoid the management of cash among drivers and to ease the refilling process.

Hard-top vehicle

A vehicle with rigid roof. As opposed to pick-up vehicles, “hard top” is a common jargon to refer to all 4WD vehicles, except for pickup vehicles.

Light vehicle

A commercial carrier vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of no more than 3.5 metric tons (EU definition); sometimes referred to as light commercial vehicle (LCV),


Refers indistinctively to the measure units used (miles or kilometers) it refers to the distance covered by a vehicle for a certain journey. It also refers to the total distance covered by a vehicle since its first use.


Counter in the vehicle dashboard to measure distances. Motor vehicles are equipped with at least one odometer to count the mileage since its first use. Additional odometers are available in some vehicles or external devices (such as GPS) to measure trip distance. As opposed to the main vehicle odometer, additional odometers can be paused or reset to 0.

Pickup vehicle

Light vehicle with an enclosed cabin and an open cargo area, sometimes covered with a soft roof. Generally, pickup vehicles are 4WD.


Passenger vehicle with separate compartment for passenger and small cargo (trunk). The trunk compartment is normally positioned in the back of the vehicle. Also commonly referred as “city-cars”.

Fleet standardization

Process of reducing the degree of diversity in the managed fleet by homogenizing vehicle make, model, major components and/or equipment.


Motorized vehicle specifically designed for transport of goods and which gross weight exceeds 3.5 metric tons. It requires a specific driving license for its operation.


Type of road vehicle used for transporting goods or people in one single compartment.


Asset operated by a person (driver) with the purpose of transporting goods or people between two different locations. It can be motorized or animal-drawn and present from 2 up to more than 4 wheels.

Vehicle LogbookRecords book for a unique vehicle. It is always kept in the vehicle glove box compartment under the responsibility of the driver assigned to the vehicle. Normally it has two different parts: one to register all repairs and maintenance activities and a second to register mileage and fuel consumption. 


Scope and Definition

Humanitarian action frequently requires vehicle-based mobility work and often demands the management of a fleet of vehicles. Vehicle fleet management refers to the knowledge and practices to manage a set of vehicles to achieve a particular operational purpose. Fleet management allows agencies to minimize risks, reduce costs and improve efficiency related to transportation of goods and people. In addition, it ensures compliance with local legislation and duty of care.


As to “road transport”, it is common that humanitarian agencies manage a fleet of vehicles (cars, vans or motorbikes) to transport people. Agencies specialized in humanitarian logistics, may also have to manage a fleet of trucks to regularly transport goods, water or construction materials. This chapter mainly focuses in the management of light vehicle fleets used for the transport of people. For complementary considerations and technical information related to cargo transport, such as cargo configuration, route planning and scheduling or documentation for goods transport, please refer to the Road Transport chapter.


It is important to keep in mind that the aim of managing a fleet of vehicles encompasses the transport of goods or people to achieve certain operational objectives, in a safe way, optimizing the use of resources and complying with the national laws and regulations. Fleet management must consider permanently these key elements and should reconsider its own reason to be if any of them is not present or can’t be achieved.

If managing a fleet is not an optimal solution for a humanitarian agency, other alternatives should be contemplated.

Alternatives to Vehicle Fleet Management

In particular circumstances, managing a fleet of vehicles for the given transport requirements could end up being inefficient, expensive, administratively difficult or dangerous. Staff movement can be also enabled by combining transportation services from public and private transportation providers, in a mode similar to “Mobility as a service” (MaaS).


The topic on rental of light vehicles (with or without driver) is covered below.

Fleet Management Process

Vehicle fleet management can be a simple or complex working process depending on the number and diversity of vehicles and the intensity of their use. 

Basic Workflow

In a different perspective, fleet management can also be broken down into four basic components: (1) drivers, (2) vehicles, (3) users and (4) movements. Following this logic, vehicle fleet management can also be looked at as several work streams that are simultaneously executed by one or several people:


In addition, all these workflows should be conveniently monitored, individually and as a whole (fleet), ensuring its due performance and proper balance and adjusting when required: overuse of resources and mechanical failure, burnout of drivers and bad behaviour, or discontent among the passengers are typical symptoms of fleet disfunctions that should be addressed. This would correspond to a fifth basic work stream: Monitoring.

Fleet Management Functions

A fleet management process and workflows can help defining a typical set of roles and responsibilities with a stake in fleet management. Combining or dividing tasks in one or several profiles will depend on the scale of the fleet, the intensity of its use and the given operational context. For example, in a field office with a fleet of 1 to 6 vehicles, and an outsourced garage, one single person could supervise all workflows and a team of 6 to 8 drivers. If the number of vehicles and drivers is significantly increased, or the mechanical garage used to service the vehicles is self-managed by the agencies, new and specialized profiles could be added to the team.


In addition, and if applicable, the fleet manager should define the order for spare parts, and assess and identify potential local providers.

The Fleet Management Cycle

Fleet management can be looked at as a sequential set of steps. This overview is especially advisable the scale of a fleet is large and when an agency owns of most of the fleet related assets and services.

1.       Planning

2.       Selection and acquisition

3.       Commissioning

4.       Use

5.       Maintenance and repair

6.       Monitoring

7.      Decommissioning and replacing

Fleet planning

Fleet planning a key strategic activity used to shape the fleet and the corresponding management model, all to support adequate and sustainable solutions to organizational needs. Fleet planning encompasses the operational, technical, administrative and financial dimensions of induvial organizations, and therefore tends to be very organizational specific.


Costs to consider when making vehicle related decisions include acquisition costs, importation costs, fuel costs, insurance, repairs, maintenance costs, labor costs, toll and parking costs and disposal costs among others. The investment required for the equipment to be installed in the vehicle, such as communications or safety equipment, shouldn’t be neglected when budgeting.  If organizations do not take all the costs related to owning a fleet of vehicles (when calculating their fleet costs), it can lead to a series of challenges (e.g. insufficient funds to maintain and repair the vehicles, to hire a fleet manager or to organize driver training.

Vehicle Selection and Acquisition


Basic considerations when it comes to choosing the most suitable passenger vehicle are related with its intended purpose, number of passengers requiring simultaneous use, and length and frequency of the journeys. Three main options are to be considered at this first stage: motorbike, light vehicle or van/minibus.





Local Purchase

  • Lower transport costs.
  • Fast delivery.
  • Supports the national economy.
  • Might not have the quality or quantity needed.
  • Hid demand for vehicles can generate competition among organizations and lead to extremely high prices.
  • Donor might be reluctant to fund in short term emergency.

Foreign Purchase/Import

  • Possible to acquire more vehicles of good quality.
  • Might lead to lower costs if the organization has global framework with vehicle manufacturer.
  • Longer delivery time.
  • Higher costs to transport vehicle.
  • Might not be able to enter country, depending on national policy and custom regulations.

Renting vehicles  (using local rental providers)

  • Vehicles will only be ordered/used when necessary and can accommodate short trips.
  • Routine maintenance costs are included.
  • No overheads in garage set-up and maintenance.
  • No high initial purchase costs.
  • They might provide insurance and drivers who understand environment and route.
  • The organization loses control over some aspects of its fleet management.
  • Discontinuation of services can cause disruptions in the day-to-day operations.
  • If the rental contract is cancelled for any reason, the organization may have to make heavy investments in vehicle purchase or temporary hire to ensure business continuity .
  • If rental vehicle comes with a driver the quality of the driver needs to be guaranteed.

Outsourcing Transport

  • External provider will take care of everything: drivers, vehicles, fuel, maintenance, insurance, telematics, reporting and more.
  • Fleet management is not the core activity; organizations can focus strictly on programmatic delivery.
  • Increases cost savings, human resource productivity and cash flow.
  • Multiple contract options: per vehicle per journey, per vehicle per day or by the ton.
  • The organization loses control of some aspects of its fleet management.
  • Realistically, safety, speed and quality must be carefully assessed.
  • Discontinuation of services will cause disruptions in day-to-day operations.

Driver Selection and Management

Drivers are an essential component to self-managed fleets, equally as important and the vehicles themselves. Even if an organization has a perfectly maintained fleet, if they are using poor quality drivers, or don’t invest in training drivers, then accidents, damages, cargo loss and possibly issues with fines or lawsuits may occur.


Insurance policy should be reviewed to adapt coverage to the organization’s needs. If necessary, a clear policy on covering repair costs should be established and accepted by the staff.


Commissioning refers to the process of bringing the vehicle and users up to the required point of readiness for movements implementation. Commissioning can encompass the following matters:


Tracking devices are another option to monitor movements. Tracking devices vary in their functionality, but generally they gather information such as vehicle’s position, speed, heading and other data using GPS, sensors and other accessories and sends it via mobile phone or satellite networks to a remote server enabling authorized fleet managers to monitor performance in real time. The information collected is generally used to improve driving patterns, movements plans or fleet performance. In addition, some tracking devices can also send alerts to specific phone numbers when a predefined event happens: high speeds, location reached, or even crashes. Tracking devices do not substitute communication devices and in all cases, an operational communication device should accompany the vehicle movement.

Fleet Performance Monitoring

Fleet Management should contribute to the cost efficiency and effectiveness of the organization while achieving its operational goals. Capturing data, analysing data and taking informed decisions is a basic three step process to monitor and improve the fleets' performance.


In addition, collecting regular feedback from the users of the service may provide qualitative information from the service and the level of satisfaction with aspects like movement planning, driving practices, driver behavior and service mindset, safety, etc.

Vehicle Condition and Maintenance

Good vehicle condition is key for the achievement of fleet management objective: attaining operational objectives, in a safe way, optimizing the use of resources and complying with the national laws and regulations. Good vehicle condition is achieved through appropriate use and maintenance.


For an overview of self-managed fuel supplies, please review the section on stocking and managing fuel at the end of this guide.

End of Life: Decommissioning and Replacing

Managing the entire vehicle lifecycle is essential to achieve an efficient use of resources, including the eventual decommissioning or disposal of vehicles. It is preferable to sell and/or replace vehicles before they become expensive to maintain, and so that their optimal resale or replacement value can be achieved.


As part of the decommissioning process, agencies should remember to recover and reassign all the vehicle equipment that could be reused: communications equipment, safety material, recovery kits, identification/visibility, etc. Agencies should also remember to inform authorities and insurance companies once vehicles are no longer in use.

Safety and Security

Duty of Care

Whether the vehicles are owned or rented, it is an essential requirement 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.[14]


humanitarian actors and convoys.[15] Although security management often falls under the responsibility of other management bodies, 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:


  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. Complementarily, an integral system for movement 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, etc. adherence to the ground (tires) and lights. Vehicle safety also includes elements that minimize 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 on 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 integral management system for crashes. The system should include: reporting mechanisms, basics on crash management and analysis and reporting on road crashes. When possible and available, all these should be coordinated together with security managers.


Special Movements

Special movements are all those  vehicle movement that require special planning and organization.


Movements in Unknown Areas

  • Organize the planned movement well in advance.
  • Minimize the number of passengers
  • Define the roles and responsibilities among the team members. Ensure that at least 1 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 organizing 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 authorizes the passenger, how much luggage, 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 be always 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 in advance the medical facility receiving the patient being transferred.
  • If providing oxygen to the patient, for safety purposes, oxygen concentrators are a preferred option rather than Oxygen cylinders. 

Armored Vehicles (AVs)

  • Ensure that the vehicle is fit for purpose and is armored according to the threats present in the area of operation: armored steel floor, armored rear cargo area, etc.
  • Technical specifications should be provided by a subject matter expert.
  • Consider import and export restriction, 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 requires specialized 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 autonomously, which may impact some communications devices such as regular GSM phones. Additional communication equipment and specific installation and setup will be required.
  • Disposal at end of life is not easy and should be planned way in advance.

Other Logistics Considerations 

In addition to vehicle fleet management, other aspects may be considered when managing a fleet of vehicles. The most pertinent could be the management of especial stocks and the environmental impact of the fleet. When managing a fleet of vehicles, it may be convenient to stock particular commodities such as fuel and spare parts. The information in this section is complementary to the chapters on sections on Physical Stock Management and on Dangerous Goods. Rather than focusing in safety issues, the content below is more related to the good conditioning and management of stocks for optimal use:

Self Managing Fuel

There are two commonly used types of storage for fuel:



English (US)

English (UK)



Handling Specifics


(Motor fuel)

(Motor fuel)

COMBUSTIBLE (Carburante)





Town gas











Bottled gas for fridge, heating, etc.






Bottled gas for fridge, heating, etc.






Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Gas used for car fuel, (adapted engine)

Essence Avion




Aviation Gasoline:
for piston engines

Very volatile, fluid, blue colour, same smell as petrol. Very flammable, explosive. Can be used in apetrol engine with 3% oil added


- super
- normale
- sans plomb


- premium
- regular
- unleaded


- super
- regular
- unleaded


- super
- normal
- sin plomo

Volatile, fluid, colourless (or almost). Very flammable, explosive. Cannot be replaced by diesel, but can replace Avgas in some aircraft. Various octane indices between regular and super





Turbine engine aircraft

Same as for Paraffin but with aeronautical specifications: filtering, packing and storing.

PETROLE (Lampant), PARAFFINE (Canada)

KEROSENE (Lamp oil)



Lamps, fridges, burner, etc.

Colourless, specific smell. Fuel for so-called “lamp oil” equipment






Greasy, yellowish, frequently coloured, heavy smell. When pure, solidifies at -5°C and requires an additive (or 20% lamp oil). This also acts as the injection pump lubricant.






Same as diesel without additives for low temperatures and lubrication






Greasy, different viscosities for different uses









Slow engines

Heavy combustible for marine engines and power plants





Road surfaces





Natural state

Adapted from MSF

Managing Spare Parts

It is important to know when to self-manage an owned stock of spare parts. The decision is usually linked to the convenience of a self-managed workshop and the use of owned and standardized fleet of vehicles. Given the complexity, it is not recommended to hold a stock of spare parts if the variety of vehicles in the fleet exceeds 2 or 3 models.


Once organizations decide to hold a stock of spare parts, they should define the type and quantities of each part required. This can be calculated based on the scale of the fleet, the frequency and types of the preventative maintenance services and the average number of kilometres completed per month per vehicle.

Managing Environmental Impact

Logistics teams must guarantee an efficient use of resources, optimizing costs and reducing the environmental impact of movements.


In addition, a vehicle's good mechanical condition and proper use will reduce fuel consumption, extend the life of all vehicle parts, avoid unnecessary expenses, and ultimately, reduce environmental impact.

Guides and Resources 

TEMPLATE - Fuel Voucher

TEMPLATE - Fuel Voucher V.2