Initial Development of a Practical Safety Audit Tool to Assess Fleet Safety Management Practices

Researchers at the University of New South Wales, in conjunction with the Australasian Fleet Management Association (AfMA), have developed a fleet safety management audit tool to help organisations benchmark their performance against current best practice. In the past, fleet safety management research was almost entirely focussed on heavy vehicle fleets, but this is changing. The audit tool was developed specifically for light vehicle fleets (i.e. vehicles less than 4.5 tonnes, such as cars and vans) and is designed to be self-administered.

The fleet safety management audit tool was created by reviewing all the existing research to find successful fleet safety management practices. The research findings were combined with industry experiences gathered from interviews with current fleet managers and fleet drivers from a number of organisations. A draft of the audit tool was trialled by 5 organisations to test its useability. It was then modified based on their feedback.

The fleet safety management audit tool is designed to measure how well fleet safety is managed in an organisation compared to best practice. It can be used to identify areas of fleet safety management that could be improved or to indicate progress in managing fleet safety across different dimensions of fleet safety. Ultimately, it could be used to benchmark an organisations’ fleet safety management performance against the performance of other organisations.

The audit tool covers five aspects of fleet safety operations management. These include:

  • management, systems and processes
  • monitoring and assessment
  • employee recruitment, training and education
  • vehicle technology, selection and maintenance; and
  • vehicle journeys

Each of the five categories has between 1 and 3 sub-categories. These focus on management practices that can be observed or verified so as to remove as much subjectivity as possible. An organisation rates its performance on each sub-category at one of 4 levels. These ratings range from level I to level IV as follows:

  • Level I indicates the organisation is performing at a high standard for these criteria;
  • Level II indicates the organisation is performing well for these criteria, but there is some room for improvement;
  • Level III indicates the organisation is performing OK on these criteria but there is considerable room for improvement; and
  • Level IV indicates the organisation is performing poorly on these criteria, with little to no activity.

For each level, a general description of the rating criteria is provided ('Strategic Criteria'), together with concrete examples of how they could be reflected in an organisation ('Operational Criteria'). The Level that an organisation achieves on each sub-category is scored. All the subcategory scores can then be added to provide a total score out of 36. The total scores obtained by organisations that participated in the usability trial showed good concordance with preliminary judgements made by fleet safety managers regarding their organisations' fleet safety performance.

  • 0 - 7 Poor
  • 8 - 14 Well below best practice
  • 15 - 21 Below best practice
  • 22 - 28 Approaching best practice
  • 29 - 36 Achieving best practice

Further development work will now be undertaken to validate the audit tool categories and scoring in the wider population of light vehicle fleets, to confirm the relationship between audit tool scores and fleet safety outcomes, and to ensure the tool remains current as new evidence about effective fleet safety management practices becomes available.

Copies of the fleet safety management audit tool and instructions for use can be obtained here.

Copies of the final report can be obtained here.

This research was funded under the NSW WorkCover Assist Program. The research conclusions are those of the authors and any views expressed are not necessarily those of WorkCover NSW.