A LEADING fleet risk management expert has claimed UK fleets are up to two years behind their international counterparts when it comes to safety.
Speaking at the National Association of Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM) conference, David Faithful, partner at Amery-Parkes solicitors and non-executive director for Risk Answers, said: 'Australia is about two years ahead of us in managing occupational road safety, but with legislation we are catching up.'
Cliff Owen, business management director for Victoria Police in Australia, also spoke at the conference. He outlined the development of Victoria's fleet safety strategy. With a fleet of 2,200 vehicles including divisional/utility vans, patrol vehicles, traffic control cars and off-roaders, two differences compared to UK fleets emerged – the lifespan of vehicles and fleet buying powers.
Owen said: 'We only use Australian manufacturers and change the vehicles every 40,000km with an average lifetime of 14 months. We told manufacturers that we wouldn't buy their cars unless they met our performance standards. Two manufacturers said no, so we didn't buy their cars for a year.'
Owen added: 'When we get vehicles from the manufacturer, we want them to be ready for duty. You need to recognise that you have commercial leverage – manufacturers want the business.'
Victoria Police completed a fleet safety review following a fatal crash involving a divisional van which killed two officers.
Following extensive tests, the force changed the vehicle platform on its divisional vans and the height of the vehicle was altered to make it more stable.
Owen said: 'You can't make informed safety decisions if you haven't got the data to back it up.'