Common Terms in Vehicle and Fleet Management

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.

Depending on the organization, fleet management may include commercial motor vehicles such as cars, vans, trucks, motorbikes, etc. but also air or water transport means such as planes, helicopters, boats, and more. Other sets of assets such as generators, shipping containers, computers or even mobile phones are sometimes also treated as a fleet. The common ground for these sets of assets to be considered as a fleet, includes characteristics such as:

This section covers only vehicle fleet management, with an special focus on motor ground vehicles. Although the same principles and logic could be applicable to other means of transport or other types of assets, these are not specifically covered here.

Furthermore, fleet management is closely related to “Asset management” and “Road transport”.

Owned vehicles are commonly considered as part of the asset/equipment inventory. Therefore, all management processes affecting assets/equipment should also be applied to vehicles belonging to the organization’s fleet. This chapter complements asset/equipment management information with specificities related to the motorized vehicles.

As “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 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 some 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).

Humanitarian logistics professionals  serve as a gateway that identify, validate and enable different transport services, which users can access according to their needs. Once the transport services have been identified and enabled, the burden lies in monitoring its use and paying the service providers accordingly. Agreements with the service providers are normally done per trip or/and distance. It is recommended to regularly assess (at least annually) the quality of the service, ensuring its compliance with the contractual terms and its usefulness.

Assessing the operational needs and the context and comparing existing transport alternatives is prerequisite in order to choose the most suitable transport option.

Common alternatives to fleet management are:

Other Humanitarian Agencies

It is very common for humanitarian agencies to operate simultaneously in certain locations. Pooling resources is a simple manner of optimizing costs and recovery of an investment. This is valid not only for transportation but also for common fleet facilities or resources, like a mechanical garage, a mechanic or a communications/radio room for movement tracking.

For sporadic use of other agencies vehicles, sharing of information and basic coordination mechanisms can be sufficient. In situations where agencies might make regular use of other agency fleet resources, both parties are strongly recommended to formalize partnerships through a Memorandum of Understanding, clearly outlying the benefits of the shared resources and clarifying the terms of accessing it. The contribution of each agency should grant equitable share of management efforts and expenditures.

Collective Public Transportation

In some locations collective transportation can result useful and cost-effective for moving people at regional or national level. This method can be convenient to cover sporadic travels through safe routes not regularly covered by the agency. In addition, public road collective transport companies usually offer the service of transporting small parcels at low rates which can be useful in certain occasions.

Safety of public use vehicles and reliability of the service are major concerns when assessing collective public transportation means, and should be specifically evaluated for each candidate company offering the service. This is especially important in developing countries. Overall condition of the vehicles and availability of the basic safety means, maintenance routines, loading of the vehicle and drivers’ capabilities are some of the basic parameters to assess.

Individual Public Transportation (Taxi)

In urban settings, the use of taxis is one of the most common individual transport means. A taxi's flexibility, affordability and ease of management make of it a very good alternative or complement for the organization’s fleet in urban operations: it allows attending easily unplanned requests scaling-up of transport based on need.

As for the collective means, safety and reliability of the service are main concerns and should be specifically evaluated for each candidate company offering the service.

Where taxi companies are not well established or are not reliable, agreements with a specific pool of trustworthy taxi-drivers can be a solution. This is a common practice to cover the transport to and from the airport. This kind of agreements allow extended services such as prolonged stand-by time, wearable visibility from the agency, transport of goods, or handover of necessary material at arrival or departure such as mobile phone or keys.

Third-party Transport Providers

Humanitarian organizations have become increasingly reliant on third-party transport providers as a method of moving cargo into and around response operations. The overall running cost of using third-party companies may be higher, but in the volatile nature of response activities, outside companies can help start operations quickly, and organizations can start or stop operations as quickly as needed without concern for what to do with large physical assets. Even if an organisation owns its vehicles, there may well be occasions when a need arises for additional capacity to meet peak activity or other short-term needs. This can be met by the use of vehicles supplied by a third-party commercial transport provider.

Third-party transport companies can usually be sourced locally within or near the emergency context, and utilizing them also serves the function of putting money into the local economy and fostering local acceptance of the aid agency in question. Organizations should follow all due diligence when soliciting and selecting third-party transport companies, and follow their own internal procurement procedures wherever possible.

Although third-party transport providers are usually specialized in the transport of goods, in some locations they can also be trusted for the transport of people. The transport of people privately operated is mostly handled by renting companies that hire vans, minibuses or coaches with driver. This solution for transporting people is a suitable alternative for punctual and specific needs such as events gathering a significant number of people or for preventative security evacuations or reallocations.

Advantages of third-party transport:

Disadvantages of third-party transport:

When regularly using third-party transport providers, a framework agreement can result useful to ease and boost the management process. It is strongly recommended to include particular terms and conditions related to safety in the agreement and to duly assess that they are respected prior to the delivery of each service.

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

Fleet management can be broken down into four basic components:

  1. Drivers
  2. Vehicles
  3. Users
  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:

All these workflows should be monitored - individually and as a whole (fleet) - ensuring due performance, 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. All four of the main categories flow into a fifth basic work stream: Monitoring.

Fleet Management Functions

Managing fleet and workflows can help define a typical set of roles and responsibilities of different parties. Combining or dividing tasks between one or several profiles will depend on the scale of the fleet, the intensity of its use and the given operational context. 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 larger 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.

Typical roles and responsibilities when it comes to vehicle fleet management might include:


Drivers are in charge of transporting goods and passengers in the organization’s vehicles, ensuring its technical and safety conditions and respecting the country’s traffic rules and the organization’s working and security procedures to provide a safe, smooth and efficient service.

To achieve this, he/she should perform the assigned vehicle regular checks, ensure that all vehicle documents and the driver’s driving license are valid and available in the vehicle, refilling the fuel tank when necessary and ensure correct loading and unloading of the vehicle.

In addition, he/she is in charge of informing agency management of any incidents involving the transportation of passengers or goods and should know how to use all types of required equipment, for communication (telephones, satellite phones or radios), safety (first aid kit and fire-extinguisher), recovery of the vehicle and to perform basic repairs and maintenance (changing tires, checking tire pressure, etc.).

Head Driver

The head driver is a specific profile employed when a significant number of drivers are used in a given fleet. The head driver can sometimes take over many of the duties normally ascribed to a fleet manager, provided the working arrangements make sense. The head of drivers coordinates the team of drivers, preparing and overseeing their work: regular checks of vehicles, vehicle inventory, refilling, etc. He/she is in charge of reporting any problems with the vehicles as well as ensuring maintenance on the fleet of vehicles and that cars are serviced at the desired time to ensure good use of it and to deliver services.

In addition, the head driver organizes training courses for drivers, conducts driving tests for all new drivers and performs regular drivers’ assessments.

The head of drivers can also be in charge of the allocation of vehicles according to the availability of drivers, the preparation of rosters and replacements in case of absence. He/she can be also involved in some monitoring tasks such as monthly reports on services, repairs and fuel consumption of each vehicle.


A mechanic performs the necessary servicing, maintenance and repair of vehicles (and other engines as generators) to ensure that they are in perfect running conditions. He/she also briefs and train the team of drivers regarding vehicle services and maintenance.

A mechanic is strongly advised when agencies are running an owned mechanical workshop, however mechanics can be employed to also conduct repairs and maintenance on vehicles in a variety of contexts. The mechanic is responsible of the equipment and tools in the garage, checking they are correctly and safely used, maintaining and renewing them when necessary and keeping the inventory updated. Although the mechanic can manage a stock of some basic consumable items, it is not advised that he/she manages the stock of spare parts. This would hinder accountability and goes against the basic division of supply chain responsibilities.

The mechanic can also support the evaluation of external workshops for eventual sub-contracting as well as checking light and heavy vehicles before its rental.

An intermediary solution commonly used when a full-time mechanic is not required, is combining the role of driver and mechanic, allocating a number of (full) days for mechanic duties.

Mobility/Movement Manager

The movement manager ensures that all movements are conveniently organized and duly implemented. He/she gathers regular and ad-hoc movement requests and assigns available resources accordingly (vehicle, driver and communications equipment when necessary), informing the relevant people about the movement plan and any change on schedules.

In addition, he/she monitors and registers any movement, of people, vehicles and cargo, ensuring its implementation under the established working and security procedures: departure, arrival, number of passengers, route taken, standard contact points, etc. He/she should inform of any delay or incident reported by any of the on-route vehicles.

Fleet Manager

The fleet manager is the overall supervisor of the fleet. He/she should elaborate and implement strategies to guarantee the adequacy of means for fleet management. This includes elaboration and review of the annual plan and budget for maintenance, renewal and scale up when necessary and planning and supervising the human resources to ensure both the sizing and the necessary knowledge and competencies. Depending on the size of the organization and the vehicle needs, the fleet manager may assume the duties of the movement manager and head driver, or may choose to employ separate distinct job profiles to help manage a wider set of tasks in larger operations.

The Fleet manager should monitor the fleet performance and support decision taking with regular reports. He/she should also advise on fleet related topics such as vehicle insurance, type and frequency of maintenance, evaluations of all the hired vehicles and transport companies, drawing up the necessary contracts.

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.

A fleet plan may depend on donor specific requirements, and may be linked with other organizational policies, such as human resources, operations or security policies. Some organizations may require vehicles be restricted to specific projects while others utilize vehicle pools to serve multiple projects. Driving policies can vary from a strict reliance on a dedicated driver from the organization to using staff to drive the vehicles.

The administrative policies of the individual organization will dictate which fleet management approach will be utilized, and the custodian of the fleet management function is very dependent on organizational policies and structures. In any case, the following elements should be considered:

In the planning phase, the number of needed vehicles should be determined. In order to do so, evaluate the different activities needing vehicle transport and for each, the number of people and the frequency required. Typical activities to consider, include:

In case of scaling up or down, or renewal of obsolete vehicles, plans should be developed and resources made available to reallocate, dispose or purchase.

Additionally, the right number and types of drivers should be evaluated and adjusted to conveniently respond to the operations. The human resources policies (maximum amount of working hours per day and days per week, salaries, holidays, etc.) may be a factor to be considered at this stage.

If the organization is experiencing significant changes in terms of mobility demand or the operational context significantly changes, a deeper revision including the management model could be used.

All planning revision should incorporate its correspondent budget and the strategies to reduce fleet costs. A specific annual budget for fleet activities is strongly recommended including costs of vehicles, maintenance, consumption of fuel and other consumable items.  

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.

If transporting cargo, a logic based in the required capacity should be applied. Vehicles with independent trunk or hybrid solutions such as pick-up vehicles can be considered. Visit the Road Transport chapter for more information on truck selection.

In addition, the operating context, environmental and road conditions will affect the decision and determine technical requirements of the vehicle such as 4WD, air conditioning, etc.

Availability of spare parts in the local market and local knowledge and capacity to achieve all type of maintenance and repairs are also to be observed.

Other factors that can limit the selecting options can be available budget, donor’s requirements or organizational policies on standardization of vehicles. Donor regulations can restrict the type or origin of vehicles that they will fund.


Fleet standardization can be useful when similar functions are to be achieved by the given set of vehicles. Standardizing a fleet consists of reducing fleet vehicle diversity, contributing to significant cost savings and gaining efficiency in key processes such as:

It is important to undertake standardization not only at vehicle make and model level, but also for vehicle major components and equipment. Purchasing one type of filter, for example, can help track consumption and negotiate for bulk purchases. Be aware that the process of standardization, if unproperly managed, can lead to suspicions of collusion: all decisions about standardizing the fleet must be done transparently and with high levels of accountability.

Ownership modalities

When it comes to vehicle selection and acquisition, the ownership modality becomes a relevant argument. Vehicles belonging to a self-managed fleet can be owned, rented or leased.

Owned Vehicles:

If an organisation decides to acquire its own vehicles, there are a number of areas to be considered.

Cost – the start-up and investment capital required to obtain vehicles can be substantial, and aid agencies limited to grant funding may not be able to cover costs all at once. Operating in many contexts will also incur substantial insurance costs as well. TCO should be evaluated previous to any engagement, as running and indirect costs can have a significant budgetary impact.

Sourcing – Vehicles can be sourced locally, or they can be imported into the response operation at the behest of the organization. Bringing in outside vehicles might be a good way of finding the best or most appropriate asset, but may take a long time to acquire and cost a large sum of money depending on the distance to delivery and the type of transport used. Although in some countries and/or emergencies Humanitarian agencies may be tax exempted, vehicles brought from a different country will also need to undergo regular customs formalities.

Be aware that some countries do not allow particular models to be imported. This is due mainly due environmental or economic reasons: not allowing light diesel cars, demanding a special emission certificate. In some cases, countries put extremely high import and/or registration taxes to protect their manufacturing market. If looking forward to import a vehicle, it is of paramount importance to find out the official and practical procedures for import.

Customization – Procured vehicles can be easily modified to be adapted to specific operational context or perform particular tasks.

Administrative – For all new vehicles, the pertinent circulation permits must be obtained and the vehicle registered. In some countries, safety and environmental impact inspections could be required.

Whole life-cycle management – An owned vehicle must be duly managed until its property is effectively transferred to another party, including the update of property records by the local authorities. The organization can be held accountable for any liability related to the vehicle during the ownership period.

Single Point of Failure – Organizations that own or manage their own vehicles, run the risk of mechanical issues or an accident completely halting use of that vehicle at any time.

Rented vehicles

Rented vehicles have become available in almost every corner of the world. Depending on the context, rental is offered by private companies or individuals, with or without driver.

The reasons to choose the use of rented vehicles can be of different nature: financial, programmatic, technical or due to insecurity:

In all cases some considerations and specific actions must be undertaken before and during a vehicle rental:

Technical and administrative inspection of rented vehicles

When renting a vehicle is of key importance to assess its general, mechanical and administrative condition. This is done with three purposes:

Ideally all inspections should be performed by a qualified mechanic.

It is recommended to use an inspection template that will allow automatic and homogeneous inspection of all vehicles, enabling a reasonable comparison and validation prior to contracting. It is suggested to keep the records separately for each vehicle inspected. The template could cover the following fields[1]:




A template for a daily physical inspection might look like:

Adapted from IFRC

It is required to cross-check the vehicle identification (chassis number and engine number) with the administrative documents and the owner identification. Any uncertainty on the ownership or mismatch between the vehicle and the presented documentation should immediately disqualify the vehicle from service.

Validation and induction of rental drivers

Equally important to the mechanical condition of the rental vehicle are the rental driver’s health condition, driving skills, administrative permits, driving and working behavior and required knowledge to operate, such as speaking local language and the geography that will be travelled. For further information on this matter, refer to the below section on Recruitment: selecting and testing drivers.

If rental is a long-term modus operandi, consider keeping a pool of “rental” drivers that can be engage upon request. In this situation, validating and instructing batches of several drivers in a single session will reduce the time spent in this important activity.

Rental agreement

In order to draw up a convenient rental agreement, the following should be considered[2]:


In some circumstances leasing could be the most financially advantageous method of renting vehicle for a limited period of time. Vehicle leasing is defined as a long-term rental with certain obligations on the lessor to ensure that the vehicle is properly operated and kept in good condition[3].

Before deciding to lease a vehicle, the ‘whole-life cost’ should be calculated and compared to other procurement options. If leasing is the cheapest option, whole-life costing can then be used to identify the optimum lease period and supplier.

The considerations on purchasing, renting or outsourcing can be summarized in the following table[4]:




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.

Required Skills and Competences

Organizations must ensure that employees involved have the necessary competence to drive safely. Competence is about ensuring appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes, as well as behaviour.

Some of the required skills and competences for drivers are:

Driving for work, can often entail lone driving, without reference to supervisors or other colleagues, over prolonged periods, and drivers could be required to travel and stay outside base overnight.

Recruitment, Testing and Selecting 

Agencies seeking to maintain their own vehicles and have a staff pool of drivers should ensure that the hiring is carried out conscientiously and skills and knowledge are clearly demonstrated. When recruiting drivers, agencies might consider:

Drivers’ competence to drive safely should be assessed at interview and/or prior to the allocation of driving tasks. Assessment should take account of the driver’s attitude, road safety knowledge and driving skills at the wheel as well other evidence such as age, experience, accident and enforcement history, including penalty points status and past training record. The following can be used as assessment checklist[5]:

1.  General

  • Years of driving experience.
  • Health issues or regular use of medicines which could affect driving.
  • Conduct a simple eyesight test by having the driver read a license plate number from a distance of 20 meters. When in doubt consult a medical person for a proper eyesight test.
  • Assess knowledge on local driving laws (i.e., maximum speeds in certain location, meaning of particular traffic signal).
  • Ask about previous experience with the type of test vehicle.
  • Familiarity with 4WD controls.
  • Knowledge on basic vehicle service.
  • Good practices to load a vehicle, specifically heavy or hazardous goods.
  • How to react in case of an accident.
  • Use of the Logbook.

2. Vehicle & driving test

2.1)  Vehicle check: Assess knowledge on what should be checked before starting the engine, why this should be checked and what should be done when faults are detected. Checks may include engine fluids; tires; spare wheel, jack and tools; looking for stains under the vehicle.

2.2) Before Starting Engine:

  • Adjusts the seating and mirrors (yes/no)
  • Ensures that seatbelts are fastened (yes/no)
  • Is the vehicle out of gear, the clutch lever up and the handbrake on?
  • Checks the instrument panel, lights and indicators (yes/no)
  • Assess the knowledge on the meaning of the instrument panel lights

2.3) After Starting Engine:

  • Listens for abnormal noise (yes/no)
  • Checks the instrument panel, e.g. oil pressure light (yes/no)

2.4) Before Driving:

  • Uses of mirrors and indicators (yes/no)
  • Shows consideration for other traffic (yes/no)
  • Drives off smoothly (yes/no)

2.5) While Driving:

  • Respects the traffic rules and road signs (yes/no)
  • Maneuvers and control the vehicle correctly (yes/no)
  • Uses mirrors and indicators (yes/no)
  • Uses gears and controls correctly (yes/no)
  • Maintains the right speed considering road condition, load and other traffic (yes/no)
  • Drives defensive (i.e., leaving space between vehicles) (yes/no)
  • Anticipates hazards (yes/no)
  • Shows consideration for other traffic and passengers (yes/no)
  • Shows consideration for the vehicle (i.e., no hard breaking) (yes/no)

2.6) Check Particular Maneuvers:

  • Emergency stop (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Hill start (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Reversing (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Urban driving (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Lane changing; overtaking (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Off-road driving (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • 4W driving (Good/Correct/Bad)

3. Security Awareness

  • Assess knowledge on main driving hazards in the area and measures to mitigate it
  • Handling main present hazards (i.e., checkpoints, car-jacking, crashes, etc.)
  • Behavior during the assessment (i.e., confident, calm, ability to communicate)

4. Use of Equipment and Tools

  • High-jack
  • Vehicle recovery tools
  • Comms equipment (radio, sat-phone, etc.)
  • Uses equipment while driving (yes/no)

Non-Professional Drivers (Staff)

In some circumstances, relying in professional drivers will be unnecessary and other staff will take the responsibility of driving themselves. This may happen when enrolling a driver is not cost-efficient but still there is a need of managing an owned fleet, including when reliable taxi services are not available, specific security risks require it, and more.

On some occasions a mixed solution could be the option, where professional drivers are the only ones allowed to drive during office hours and some categories of staff could be allowed to drive after office hours. Certain restrictions could be established in this case: perimeters and timings for circulation, people to be transported, bans for leisure usage, to name a few.

In the case were non-professional staff is allowed/requested to drive the agency’s vehicles, it is strongly recommended to define a policy framing the access to the service: who has the right to access it and for which purposes, administrative actions to do so, responsibilities from organization and workers and basic procedures on sharing vehicles, including: schedules, reservation, keys management, parking instructions, and steps to take in case of incident.

In addition to holding a valid driving permit, the skills of the driver should be duly tested to ensure that he/she has the skills to drive the given vehicle in the given context.

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:

 Required Equipment

For operating in a given context, additional equipment and vehicle customization may be required. Typical modifications for harsh road conditions may include:

These modifications can be requested to the vehicle supplier during the procurement process. If not, it should be performed by a specialized workshop.

For movement tracking purposes and security, reliable communication with the vehicle may be required. This can be addressed by mobile phone with adequate connection, Satellite phone or radio. Depending on the technology and models, certain radio equipment may require specialized installation. The modifications may include: antenna support bracket, earth braids on bonnet, prewired with all cabling and radio bracket.

For safety purposes, the basic equipment may include a fire-extinguisher and a first aid kit.

Briefings and Trainings

Given the risks incurred while operating in certain environments, especially while moving by vehicle, a proper induction to both, drivers and users should be done. For the new drivers, this can be addressed by the fleet manager or other drivers. For the people making use of the fleet, other profiles in the organization can be assigned to deliver the briefing. In any case, the time needed to instruct drivers and users shouldn’t be neglected.

Topics to be covered for driver’s induction may include:

Standard Driver Responsibilities [6]

  • Security of the persons and goods being transported.
  • Respect of the traffic rules.
  • Respect the speeds limits as defined by the agency.
  • Adapt speed according to the conditions of the road, the load he carries and the pedestrian on streets.
  • Wear the safety belt at all times and ensure all passengers do so.
  • Correct and secure loading of the transported goods making sure the cargo is strapped down.
  • State of the car and notification of any mechanical problem.
  • Update of the logbook.
  • Care of the tools and spare parts in the car.
  • Cleanliness of the car.
  • Notification of an accident, incident or crash.

Topics to be covered for user’s briefing may include:


Vehicles while moving are a very visible part of the humanitarian operations. When operating in volatile context or in areas with restricted access, clearly displaying the humanitarian nature of the movement may contribute to grant access or security. For this purpose, specific colours and visibility material such as stickers or flags, can be ported on the vehicle.

It is recommended that based on a risk assessment, basic criteria are established for the use of visibility material. Why, what and when identification material should be used, and where in the vehicle it should be located are among the basic questions to be answered.

Paint, magnetic banners or stickers are the typical solutions for the body of the vehicle. For obvious reasons, permanent logos shouldn’t be the option if there is a risk of car-jacking. When requiring carrying flags, assess the environment to ensure a proper balance between adequate flag visibility and impacting other bodies such as trees or street furniture.

If requiring intensive use of visibility material in the vehicle, make sure to have enough stock to replace it regularly. If using rental vehicles, ensure that the visibility material is handed over once the service is terminated.

Compliance and Administration

There are certain liabilities related to the use of vehicles that must be considered by any agency managing a fleet of vehicles.


Drivers should have a valid driving license for the specific vehicle they operate. The driving license has an expiry date and should be renewed in a regular basis (5 to 10 years, depending on the country and the profile of the driver). Other permits could be required for the transportation of certain categories of goods, such as a commercial license or special permit for transporting some cargo items. Refer to the local/national regulation to learn which are applicable to your activity.

Except for limited bilateral or regional international agreements, national driving licenses are not recognized in foreign countries. For driving in a country where the driving license is not recognized, an international driving license should be obtained. Visit to learn about bilateral or regional international agreements on driving permit recognition and how to get an international driving permit.


 Whether the vehicles being used are owned, hired or are managed by a third-party, it is important to ensure that all local laws are adhered to. There are different norms that are commonly applicable:


The use and ownership of motor vehicles are strongly regulated by most countries. All vehicles must be officially allocated to a physical person or organization who will be liable for any duties or responsibilities linked to the vehicle. It is therefore important to go through the required registration process when acquiring a new vehicle or when decommissioning an old one.

Circulation Permit

Depending on the local regulation, it may be common that every motor vehicle to be used on the road pays an annual circulation license fee. The fee is normally proportional to the gross weight or the engine power of the vehicle, but can be specific to its purpose and type of loads such as oversized or hazardous goods.


Insurance is a legal requirement for motor vehicles which aims to provide financial coverage against physical damage or bodily injury resulting from traffic collisions and against liability that could also arise from incidents in a vehicle. Vehicle insurance may additionally cover theft, weather or natural disasters and damage sustained by colliding with stationary objects. Vehicles should be insured to at least the minimum required by the local law. Different organisations will have internal policies regarding the extent to which their own vehicles should be insured. This must be established according to the operational context and a risk assessment.


Vehicles may also require a technical clearance certifying that the vehicle is safe for circulation in public spaces. Technical clearance may include environmental considerations such as type of fuel used or levels of CO2 emitted by the exhaust. Technical inspections can be related to the type of vehicle and its purpose, certifying the maximum permissible passengers and weights in terms of gross vehicle weight, axle weight and payload.

Fitness to Drive and Medical Clearance [7]

Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task requiring perception, good judgement, responsiveness, and reasonable physical capability. A range of medical conditions, as well as treatments, may impair driving ability. Common examples include blackouts or fainting, sleep disorders, vision problems, diabetes, epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, heart disease, and age-related decline.

It is advised that professional drivers take fitness to drive check every year and to install bi-annual checks for staff that drives occasionally. All staff should be advised to undertake a health check sooner whenever they suspect they have a problem. This includes eye tests. Eye tests should be carried out by qualified optometrists, and should include a test of the driver’s horizontal and vertical range of vision.

It’s important to ensure that your drivers are mentally and physically fit to drive using a process of self-declaration. Drivers must be advised that they must notify management if they have disabilities or conditions that could prevent them from driving safely.

Movement Planning and  Resource Allocation

Movement planning and resource allocation are key activities for successful fleet management. Its aim is to respond duly to all movement requests by the use of the existing means while making the most efficient use of resources. The planning must take into consideration elements such as destination, number of passengers, cargo, and match it with available drivers and vehicles ensuring that their condition fits for purpose and is compatible with maintenance schedule.

To ease the planning process and avoid reactive resource allocation that may lead to inefficiency and discontent among users, a weekly plan is recommended. Transport requests should be duly completed and approved and then delivered to the person in charge of planning the movements before an agreed deadline (sufficient time to allow a proper planning). The following is an example template for managing weekly movement requests[8]:

Once requests are collected from the different departments/services/users, a weekly movement plan can be defined. According to the availability of vehicles, to their capacity (weight, and passenger number) and to the road condition, the fleet manager will organize the movements planning. The following criteria have to be considered:

When destinations for several departments are coinciding on the schedule, a combined movement can be organized using the same vehicle or moving in convoy. It may happen that there are not enough available vehicles, so the organization will have to set up priorities and change the program in order to cancel or combine movements or look for an additional vehicle.

The weekly plan can be outlined in different shapes: weekly, daily, etc.

Below is a template weekly movement plan [9]:

Below, a daily movement plan template:

For a proper planning it is necessary to know all itineraries and the road condition in advance. In unknown areas, a route assessment could be necessary, collecting information on distances, timings, intermediary milestones, indications, communication networks coverage, etc. For this purpose, the use of roadbooks could be recommended. A roadbook is a text file in the shape of a matrix with basic indications to accomplish a journey between two different locations.

A typical road-book will have the following outline [10]:


Blantyre - Lilongwe


4h 30min

LAST UPDATE: 24/5/2010


305 Km





Comms coverage




0 km

Round about


7 km



15 km

trading centre



31 km

trading centre



42 km



52 km

police station

Cross M1 - M6


53 km



81 km



99 km



108 km



115 km

police station + 1st petrol station

Cross M1 / M5 / M8



137 km

trading centre


147 km

Border Ntcheu DC



149 km

Capital District - Hospital DC



158 km

Police station + border Malawi-Moç



195 km

Trading centre



207 km

Diversion secondary Rd to Mangochi



219 km

Police station + petrol station



243 km

Trading centre



272 km



283 km

Customs police



292 km

Trading centre


295 km

Border Lilongwe DC



297 km

Police station + petrol station



305 km

Town entry

The roadbook has as many rows as indications or milestones as the journey will require and columns to register: distance, time and other relevant information for the journey, such as communications coverage, hospitals, police stations, petrol stations, etc.

In addition to contributing for accurate planning and resource allocation, roadbooks can also help for briefing during driver’s induction or to determine communication points for movement tracking purposes.

Movement Implementation and Monitoring

Knowing the whereabouts of the vehicles at all moment is essential for a coordinated and reactive fleet management, especially when the size of the fleet is large, simultaneous movement take place and when operations are deployed in volatile contexts.

Different vehicles must have the capability to communicate with the office at any moment, allowing the reporting of any incident or event. The office should also have the capability to contact any vehicle at any moment to communicate about changes in the plan or latest contextual updates requiring a change in the route. Having functional communication equipment and a basic communication procedures specifying when to communicate, to whom and with which means is highly advisable for any planned movement.

On some occasions it could be relevant having a specific person to track the movements and record the current location of the vehicle and last contact made. When relying on radio communication systems, this role is usually assumed by a designated and trained radio-operator. In locations with sufficient GSM coverage and where communications rely on 3G-4G mobile networks, instant messaging applications can be the mean to monitor movements.

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.

Data Collection

Fleet data should be captured in a structured way, always keeping in mind that collected data should contribute to decision making. Fleet performance criteria can be classified in the following blocks:

  • Availability rate: What is the time that the vehicles are available for its use (not broken-down or in the workshop)
  • Utilization rate: what is the time that the vehicles are used?
Driving habits and  Condition 
  • Average fuel consumption: is it within the expected range?
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Fuel costs
  • Maintenance and repair costs
  • Running costs
  • Cost per km
  • Incidents per 100.000 km
  • Injuries per 100.000 km
  • Fatalities per 100.000 km

In order to generate basic indicators, the following information should be collected in a regular (recommended monthly) basis:

Vehicle Logbook

The above-mentioned information is captured from different sources at different levels. The primary repository of vehicle movement information is the vehicle logbook. The vehicle logbook is a book used to record all the relevant information relative to a unique vehicle. It is always kept in the vehicle, and is the responsibility of the driver assigned to the vehicle. Normally logbooks have two different parts: one to register all repairs and maintenance activities and a second to register mileage and fuel consumption. 

Below is a template vehicle maintenance logbook:

Adapted from ACF

A template vehicle logbook:

Adapted from ACF

Both, maintenance and fuel logbook templates are printed in a single book that is filled by driver (fuel part) and mechanic (maintenance part) and collected by the fleet manager regularly. It is recommended to compile all logbooks and process them in a monthly basis.

The information from the Logbook is then transferred to a spreadsheet for its consolidation and analysis.  Several templates can be used for a systematic collection of data. Fleet Forum offers a collection and reporting tool based on spread-sheet developed by the WHO[11].

Fuel Consumption

The fuel consumption of the vehicle is one of the basic parameters to monitor the vehicle condition and driving habits.

A baseline for vehicle fuel consumption should be provided by the vehicle manufacturer or the fleet manager as per his/her experience. In addition, consider that road conditions, load weight, idling time, use of air conditioned, age of the vehicle, etc. can affect fuel consumption. Taking that into consideration, the consumption of a driver-vehicle tandem should be more or less regular in time and significant deviations should be duly examined to understand the reasons behind and corrected when possible.

Fuel consumption baseline per type of vehicle provided by WHO in its fleet reporting tool are the following:

Type of vehicle Fuel  Consumption (liters per 100 km)
Sedan < 2.7 tonnes11,90
PICK-UP / SUV /SUV-4x4 (GVW* <3.5T)15,35
VAN / MINIBUS (GVW <3.5T)15,35
BUS / TRUCK (GVW >3.5T)20,50

It is recommended to calculate the consumption after having the tank filled up. To make the calculation for a consumption in litter per 100 Km:

  1. Take the distance between 2 fill-ups.

2. Distance at the last fill-up minus the distance at the previous fill-up: 

2,046 - 1,380 = 666 Km

3. Quantity Fuel put in the tank in the last fill-up:

80 litters

4. Fuel consumption per 100 Km is:

80/666 x 100 = 12 L/100 Km

Other Data Sources

Information on vehicle usage that could assist calculating the availability rate or the utilization rate could be extracted from the movement planning and workshop records.

Information on vehicle crashes should be also duly recorded to enable monitoring of safety related fleet indicators. Fleet Forum has accessible a comprehensive toolkit for managing crash reporting and analysis[12]. This topic is further developed in section 5. Safety and security.

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.

Generally, maintenance can be approached in two different ways: preventative and reactive.

Vehicle fleet management aims to make transport available the maximum possible time. This is achieved by (1) planning maintenance interventions and (2) limiting the downtime to a minimum.

It is always inconvenient to lose the use of a vehicle for a day. But when vehicle maintenance is scheduled in advance, it can be arranged to reduce impact with other activities requiring the use of the vehicle.

Furthermore, running a vehicle without preventive maintenance results inefficient because the subsequent breakdowns cost significantly more and the repairs take much longer to be achieved. In addition, certain breakdowns can affect the vehicle reliability and consequently the user’s safety. Therefore, it should be timely done without delay to keep the vehicle in a trustworthy state during its whole life cycle.

Frequency of Preventative Maintenance [13]

Preventative maintenance starts with the daily and weekly checks. These are inspections under the responsibility of the driver aiming to proactively identify possible mechanical issues.

Every morning, before starting the vehicle engine, the driver should take 10 minutes to check:

After starting the vehicle, the driver should listen to abnormal noises, check indicators, lighting and dashboard warning lights and the presence of all required equipment.

In addition, once per week (recommended at the end of the week), the driver should take 1 hour to:

In case of any problem, the driver should record it in the vehicle logbook and inform the fleet manager to evaluate the scale of the damage and to plan all relevant arrangements.

Besides the regular checks under the driver’s responsibility, specific maintenance services are regularly required to keep the vehicle up to a good functioning standard. Different parts or fluids in the vehicle require different frequency for its replacement: for instance, engine oil requires being changed with a higher frequency than the axles oil. Other interventions, like changing the brakes pads or replacing the tyres will be done according to its current condition. A regular sequence for vehicle service and mechanical revision is normally used. This helps to standardize all the actions required in regular maintenance allowing services planning and rationalizing the use of spare parts.

Check with the vehicle manufacturer what the regular maintenance required by the vehicle and the recommended frequency. The maintenance schedule is usually available in the vehicle manual, but should also be available online. The periodicity of maintenance should be adapted according to the conditions of use specific to every operational environment. Periodic maintenance should be conducted of a qualified mechanic.

Owned or Subcontracted Mechanical Workshop

In general, the choice between setting up and managing a workshop or using a mechanic services provider is based on considerations of:

Organizations should consider all factors before settling on possible alternatives.

A mixed solution where the basic services are performed in a self-managed workshop and the more complex interventions are outsourced is often a suitable solution when operating in remote locations, where services and infrastructure are limited and the distance to the closest mechanic workshop makes frequent use impractical.

Although evaluating the "availability" could be the easiest part, assessing the quality of the service can be difficult. Some of the following things could be assessed:

In addition, some basics could be assessed in a visit to the workshop premises:

Costs should never be the guiding principle: quality of service is paramount. Running costs, and especially the initial investment for an owned workshop, can be considerable. The time period to be covered by any work shop is of key importance as the time to recover the investment can be significant.

If the final decision is to outsource maintenance, it is important to carry periodic assessments of the quality of service and to keep records of all repairs and maintenance. It is recommended for the assigned driver to be present during the whole repair process and avoid overnights if the premises are not considered secure. It is recommended to request a visual inspection of all the parts that have been replaced and invoiced.


Fuel is essential for vehicle functioning and a significant expenditure in most humanitarian operations. In addition, poor quality fuel can cause serious (sometimes irreversible) mechanical problems and considerably reduces the vehicle’s lifetime. Therefore, fuel refilling is a basic activity but must be carefully controlled.

An average light vehicle consuming 10L of fuel every 100 Km, travelling 100Km daily will have to refill at least once weekly (more or less often depending on its fuel tank capacity). Basic rules for fuel use:

It is recommended to schedule at least 1 refill per week, regardless of the tank level of the vehicle. Refills should be done up to full tank capacity. This will ease fuel consumption calculations and reduce the frequency of refills. fuel refilling can be a hazardous and time-consuming activity, especially when managing large fleets or in congested gas stations.

It is suggested to incorporate a fuel refill procedure within the fleet management policies. In addition to the above-mentioned issues, procedures should include basics on fuel quality and payment methods.

Fuel should be protected against all accidental or intentional contamination: no impurities, dust, other liquids or chemical additions should interact with or mix with fuel. Fuel quality should be checked throughout the supply chain, especially if transported or stored in barrels, as they may be dirty or content water or humid air prone to condensation.

Ensure that the vehicle is refilled with the correct fuel: filling up a diesel vehicle with petrol has irreversible consequences such as destroying the engine.

Use of Outside Fueling 

If regular refilling is done by the vehicles directly in the fuel station (no fuel storage managed by the agency), a refilling procedure should be defined and include the following basic topics:

Adapted from ACF

To allow reconciliation and payment, the voucher should be printed/filled with carbon copy in 3 sheets:

  1. Responsible for authorization.
  2. Fuel station.
  3. The employee receiving the fuel for subsequent delivery at office for reconciliation and payment purposes.

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.

Benefits of properly decommissioning, disposing and replacing vehicles, include: contributing to lower maintenance costs, to lower CO2 emissions, and to optimizing the selling price of the vehicle.

Economic Life 

For this purpose, vehicle purchase value and its economic life must be considered. “Economic life” is the expected period of time during which an asset remains useful to the average owner. When an asset is no longer useful to its owner, is considered past its economic life. The economic life of the vehicle should be defined by each agency as part of its asset management policy: some may consider 48 months, some other consider 60 months.

The example below shows a linear estimation over time of the value of a vehicle procured with USD 20 000, considering 48 months of economic life.

More complex models can be applied to represent the vehicle value over time. As an example, a curved exponential approach may be more accurate for certain purposes, as the vehicle loses much of its value after its first usage. Economic life can be calculated by determining the point at which the estimated resale value of a vehicle becomes lower than the annual operating costs.

Due to the nature and cost of many vehicles owned and operated by humanitarian agencies, many organizations may choose to sell or a vehicle well before the maintenance cost reach the same level as the repair costs. This holds especially true for operations in which the risk of an inopportune break down is more than just the cost of repair. This might include:

Example: Changing resale and maintenance costs vs. original purchase value.


Original Purchase Cost

Estimated Resale Value

Annual Cost of Maintenance and Fuel









































Planers should always keep in mind that the economic life of an asset is different than its actual physical life. Vehicles will usually always live longer than their respective economic lives to the agency, and the relationship between the two will depend on the utilisation of the vehicle and the operational conditions. In this sense, it is common to set a limit in mileage to start considering replacing a vehicle; 200,000 Km (+/- 50 000 Km) is often used as a basic rule.

Some agencies may decide to extend the life of a vehicle beyond its economic life. This is especially pertinent when a good maintenance scheme has been applied and records show that the costs of maintaining the vehicle is still below its market resale value. The decision of replacing a vehicle should be sustained by consistent fleet management records on costs, utilization, safety and asset age.

Furthermore, depending on the country legislation related to the humanitarian agencies and the funding mechanisms used to purchase the vehicle, some limitations to this logic may be applicable; some countries don’t allow NGOs to resell assets like vehicles and some donors require donating or transferring the vehicle at the end of the project to another funded agency or project. Being aware of country legislation and donor’s specific procedures related to assets and vehicle management is of key importance to avoid incurring in significant legal or financial risks.

Decommission and disposal

Once the decision for vehicle replacement is taken, different options for old vehicle decommissioning and disposal should be considered. The most common disposal methods are:

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]

In addition, according to Aid Worker Security Report 2020, the most dangerous place for aid workers in general remains the road, 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) for ambushing

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:

Though, in the first instance, organizations 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. 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.

Reporting a road traffic crash, or a potentially unsafe situation such as a near miss or good catch, 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[16], including actions to take at a crash scene, capturing information at-the-scene and driver post-crash report at the base, 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 rule general guide:

The following are considered useful links related to road safety:

Special Movements

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

Typical special movements might be:

  1. Movements with heavy planning requirements.
    1. exploratory missions into unknown areas.
    2. convoy travels.
  2. Movements of special items.
    1. transport of dangerous goods.
    2. transport of valuable assets.
    3. transport of special passengers (patients, kids, human remains).
  3. Movements of special vehicle types.
    1. Ambulance services.
    2. Armored vehicles.

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

Basic considerations for any special movements are:

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 special 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:

  1. Drums
  2. Tanks/Fuel Bladders

Fuel Tanks/Bladders:

Tanks or fuel are a preferred option though are less flexible in terms of setup. Tanks and fuel bladders are good for long term projects where there is a known need for refueling and vehicle requirements for the foreseeable future, and where refueling is consistent. The installation of fuel tanks or balder come with their own problems, however large quantities of fuel can be heavy, and installing a fuel tank on infirm ground or an unstable structure can lead to damage and bodily harm. Depending on the size of the fuel tank, there may also be extremely large quantities of fuel that may pose security risks:

Tanks and bladders should be installed on relatively elevated positions, at least as high or higher than the fuel tanks of the prospective vehicles, usually at least one meter off the ground. Tanks and bladders should only be fabricated out of materials that are specifically designed to hold fuel.

Fuel tanks also usually require refilling from a tankered fuel truck, meaning the tank or bladder must be physically reachable by the refueling vehicle. Compounds should have enough room for a refueling truck to enter and turn, or the tank must be accessible from a hose. A pump will also be required to push fuel from a delivery truck to the tank, meaning if the truck does not have a pump with it, one will need to be available on base.

Fuel tanks can be refilled from drums by hand, but this is time consuming, requires physical labor, and can lead to spilling. If at all possible, if refilling form drums is required, a pump should be used in place of pouring fuel from the drum into the tank.

Fuel tanks or bladders should be well marked and highly visible. The tank and area around it should also be clearly labeled as dangerous.

Fuel is usually withdrawn from drums using a pump. It is strongly advised that any pump has a gauge on it to record how many liters are pumped, both at the time of vehicle refueling, and over the life of the pump itself. Organizations may also wish to use as clearly visible measuring stick outside of the tank to monitor the height of the fuel. Cross referencing the count on the fuel pump vs. the height of the fuel can indicate if fuel is being stolen or if it is leaking slowly.

Inspections around a fuel tank should be conducted several times a year to look for signs of degradation, warping on leaking.


Fuel drums may be used in situations where required fuel quantities are small, where there the only refueling capacity is delivery by drum, or where it is unsafe or inappropriate to maintain a large fuel tank for whatever reason.

Drums should be stored upright on wooden pallets in order to avoid rusting at the bottom of the drum, especially in humid conditions. The pallets should be on waterproof plastic sheeting, and a bed of sand or sawdust should surround the pallets to absorb leaks during handling. Plastic sheeting should be cleaned regularly and the sand/sawdust should be replaced regularly to avoid build-up of hazardous chemicals.

When possible, it is best to buy new, sealed drums directly from the refinery. This to avoid:

Fuel contained in a leaking drum should be transferred without delay to a drum in good condition. Be aware that there is no effective way to seal a leaking drum that is full. Drums can be sealed by welding, which should never occur around any amount of fuel.

Leaks are often caused by improper handling of drums. For the loading / unloading of vehicles, it is recommended to build a permanent ramp. Alternatively, warehouse or base personnel can use boards designed for the purpose, and built in place. When rolling a drum on the ground, be sure to sweep the surface in front of it to prevent hard points like nails or stone from puncturing the drum or damaging it.

The contents of the drum must always be correctly written on the container to avoid filling a diesel vehicle with petrol and vice versa. It is a good practice to assign a colour for each type of fuel and mark all the related articles - jerrycans, drums, pumps - with it to assist persons with different languages or different reading capabilities.

In both cases, drums or tank, the containers must be waterproof and dustproof.

Fuel Purity:

As fuel settles during storage, all the impurities including dust and suspended matter will settle to the bottom. If water is present in the fuel, it will also separate and settle to the bottom. This natural of settling over time that will provide acceptable quality fuel for users, while impure fuel may damage equipment, increase maintenance requirements, and shorten its useable life span. There are several recommendations to follow to avoid filling the vehicles with dirty fuel:

All fuels are corrosive and should not be used with plastic accessories, such as plastic buckets or plastic pipes. Also avoid contact with Teflon and tire innertubes.


It is common to use the term “fuel” to refer to different products. Furthermore, equal terms in different languages refer to different product types. The following translation sheet, illustrates the basics on Fuel terminology:


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.

Managing a fleet of self-owned vehicles contexts where a supply chain remains uncertain imposes a high degree of autonomy in terms of spare parts availability. The risks of not having spares at the wrong moment must be assessed. The following matrix can be adapted and used as guidance for decision taking.

Also consider the reliability of local markets: the cost of original parts purchased locally can be double or even triple that of buying internationally. Generally, most of the parts available locally consist of high demand parts such as filters or brake linings, while less demanded parts may be less available, but just as important. Some consumables - such as lubricants and tires - can be easily found locally.

It is therefore recommended to perform market research with a comprehensive list of parts and carefully assess the quality of available parts and validate suppliers. Original quality supplies should be always demanded as the consequences of using counterfeit or substandard parts can seriously affect the condition of the vehicle and jeopardize rider safety.

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.

Movement planners should look for opportunities to combine or, in some cases, avoid travel. Fleet managers should try to reduce the size of the fleet or replace vehicles with smaller, cheaper and more efficient ones wherever possible. Pooling logistics resources, such as vehicles, with other organizations may also provide significant cost and emissions cutbacks through optimized fuel consumption and smaller fleets.

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

TEMPLATE - Maintenance Request

TEMPLATE - Movement Request Form

TEMPLATE - Vehicle Daily Inspection Report

TEMPLATE - Vehicle Maintenance Logbook

TEMPLATE - Vehicle Movement Logbook

TEMPLATE - Weekly Movement Plan

Guide - Vehicle Servicing - Motorcycle

Guide - Vehicle Servicing

TEMPLATE - Accident Incident Report Form

TEMPLATE - Daily Movement Plan

TEMPLATE - Discharge of Liability

[1] Adapted from MSF Checklist for vehicle rental.

[2] Adapted from MSF Guideline for vehicle rental.

[3] ULS, Universal Logistics Standards,

[4] Fleet Forum,

[5] Adapted from MSF Drivers Recruitment Test

[6] Extracted from MSF Logbook

[7] Extracted from Fleet Forum,

[8] Transport request extracted from Action against Hunger Logistics Kit.

[9] Weekly plan template extracted from Action against Hunger Logistics Kit.

[10] Roadbook template extracted from MSF OCBA Logistics Library


[12] Fleet Forum, Managing Crash Reporting & Analysis,

[13] Adapted from MSF Vehicle maintenance logbook.

[14] Global Status on Road Safety, WHO, 2018 (