EASST, the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport is an independent charity whose mission is to save lives and prevent injuries by ensuring safer, greener and more sustainable road transport.
Too many organisations engage with fleet safety as a mere ‘box-ticking’ exercise, considering it only as part of a wider risk assessment. But what mitigating actions are actually taken and what impact does this really have?
Here are three key ways in which a robust fleet management strategy is vital to every humanitarian aid and development project:
- It saves lives
- It ensures that programmes and deliveries are as cost-effective and efficient as they can be
- It can have huge long-term benefits for economic development and environmental sustainability
As an aid worker in a developing country, it is normal to get vaccinated against diseases such as malaria, typhoid or dengue fever. But the number one cause of aid worker deaths is actually road traffic crashes. Effective fleet management reduces the number of road crashes and is therefore just as essential as being vaccinated against common diseases.
Cost-effective and efficient programmes
Transportation is the second largest overhead cost to humanitarian organisations. Road crashes cost money that could be used elsewhere.
Paying out to repair damaged vehicles is just the tip of the iceberg. The cost of a road crashes can have many negative impacts such as emotional trauma, financial losses from absenteeism due to injured personnel, lost productivity, late deliveries, brand damage, and even staff turnover.
In 2011, Oxfam’s Global Fleet Manager estimated that the organisation was involved in around one crash every week. Based on an average financial loss of €4500 per vehicle involved in a crash, the annual cost to Oxfam could be around €225,000, which equates to the cost of providing water to around 4500 villages.
Economic development and sustainability
Road deaths and injury are estimated to cost countries between 1-5% of GDP. With 90% of road casualties occurring in low and middle-income countries, this cost is hitting the developing world hard.
In 2015 road safety was recognised as a mainstream player in global development when it was included within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 3.6: By 2020, half the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes.
SDG 11.2: By 2030, provide safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
The Save LIVES road safety technical package launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier this year also calls for ‘leadership in fleet safety’ - as a means to both reduce road casualties and encourage more public transport use.
Additionally, EASST together with IRU Academy and Cranfield University have developed an online tool called Road Safety at Work: Online Course for Managers - a resource to give managers the skills they need to put good fleet safety management system into practice.
The course is specifically designed to address issues and challenges faced by those operating fleets in developing countries. It is flexible and simple enough that it can be followed by in-country programme managers and country officers. It’s also low cost and offers simple, practical advice that can be implemented by anyone responsible for staff or contractors that operate vehicles within their projects.
With one in three road crashes taking place when people are driving for work purposes, reducing the risk to commercial vehicles and public transport globally could play a very significant role in cutting road fatalities, aiding economic development, and achieving UN targets.