The Vision Zero Network and Together for Safer Roads convened international experts for an interactive discussion on integrating fleet safety in Vision Zero programs. We were joined by Alex Epstein with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Volpe Center, Peter Binham of Transportation for London, and Keith Kerman, New York City Chief Fleet Officer.
Cities work with fleets in many ways. Fleet vehicle safety, like Vision Zero strategy, is a collaborative effort: municipal fleets can lead by example with safer vehicles and driver training programs; and cities also have extensive contracted and regulated fleets.
Fleet Safety research and tools
Alex Epstein talked about his research at the US DOT Volpe Center and summarized three areas for safety work:
- Set-it-and-forget-it safety technologies such as side-guards. Many cities have incorporated this practice referencing Volpe’s recommended standard.
- Training to help drivers with technologies (advanced driving assistance systems, crossover mirrors, telematics).
- Vehicle design and operations (e.g., smaller fire trucks, higher vision trucks).
Epstein talked about the importance of visibility and shared this free smartphone-based blind spot measurement tool for fleet managers and drivers. Epstein also mentioned no and low-cost safety improvements, such as removing bug deflectors and bull bars to increase safety.
Lesson from London
Peter Binham shared lessons from a decade of work on the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS). FORS provides training and has requirements for operators including:
- Policy, procedures and risk assessments,
- Vehicle safety equipment,
- Vulnerable Road User driver training,
- Environmental driver training,
- Competent trained management,
- Driver License and eyesight checks.
Binham described work with fleet drivers, including a training program which has helped 155,000 drivers to ride bikes, to better understand how fleet vehicles interact with vulnerable road users. FORS has significant safety returns: FORS operators see on average a 41% reduction in injury collisions and 25% reduction in total collisions.
New York City leadership
Keith Kerman talked about his work at the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). They run the largest municipal fleet in the US, including serving 15 different agencies: from transportation to sanitation. NYC adopted Vision Zero seven years ago. In addition to improving roadway safety, their work with fleets also provides environmental benefits and cost-savings.
In February 2020, NYC issued Executive Order #53: An All-Electric and Safe New York City Fleet. This order highlights fleet electrification and safety improvements; and applies these best practices as widely as possible including public, private and non-profit fleets.
Kerman described that fleet redesign can be cheaper and faster than street redesign and capital improvements. NYC has implemented real-time tracking based on telematics technology that is mandated for city fleets, a program that has paid for itself.
All speakers noted the importance of working with drivers themselves, with efforts including driver training (both in-person and online). Cities, as owners of large numbers of fleet vehicles, should be a model for private-owned fleets. David Braunstein of Together for Safer Roads closed the webinar and talked about cities that are embedding requirements for fleet safety programs, in procurement practices.
Thanks to the panelists for sharing their time, experience, and expertise. You can access more helpful information about working with fleets, on our Vision Zero Network Resource page.
And register for upcoming Vision Zero Network webinars here, including another focused on fleet safety on March 25, 2021.