Professional drivers can be powerful forces in achieving Vision Zero. Vision Zero requires the commitment of all parts of society and achieving it — eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries — depends on full participation.
The Vision Zero Network and Together for Safer Roads (TSR) convened a conversation with city and business leaders about ways to get private sector fleets involved in Vision Zero programs. Panelists Dave Braunstein and Noah Budnick of TSR, David Fields from the City of Houston, Christina Yancer from Republic Services, and Neal Kalish of Ambu-Trans shared best practices and how they are improving fleet safety.
Dave Braunstein described that fleet operations are a tangible way to get the private sector involved in Vision Zero. Nationwide, trucks (which are 4% of the U.S. vehicle fleet) account for 7% of all pedestrians, 11% of all bicyclists, and 12% of all fatalities. The best fleet leaders create safety cultures, continuous improvement is part of everyone’s shift, and data is an objective management tool to support professional drivers and managers.
The City of Houston has ambitious Vision Zero goals. Over 200 people are killed, and more than 1,000 people are seriously injured every year in traffic crashes on Houston streets. David Fields shared that fleets are a big part of Houston’s commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
Based on community input, fleets are a big part of Houston’s Vision Zero Action Plan. Houston is working internally through a Fleet Management Department to track speeds and apply best practices to all City fleet vehicles. Houston is going beyond fleets they operate and contract with; they are enrolling Houston-area businesses in the Safe Fleet Management Program.
One business that is supporting Houston’s Vision Zero Action Plan is Republic Services, a waste disposal company. Republic operates hundreds of trucks in the Houston area. Republic has 19,000 vehicles nationwide and so helping drivers make safe decisions everyday makes a big impact. Christina Yancer, of Republic Services, describes the import of everyone going home the way that they go to work. Republic’s training program helps each driver take responsibility for their driving decisions and provides them with skills and technology to be safer on the roads.
Neal Kalish, the President of AmbuTrans Ambulette talked about why and how safety is a priority for his company, which provides non-emergency medical transportation in New York. AmbuTrans has proof that “at fault” collisions can be minimized with use of readily available, technology, combined with rigorous driver selection and training.
Drivers are part of the company-wide goal of Zero At Fault Collisions. All drivers have to follow the New York City speed limit of 25 miles per hour and are trained in safe defensive driving. AmbuTrans uses technology in a data-driven approach to safety that allows them to track where and when drivers make risky decisions. In the question/answer session at the end of the webinar, Neal talked about cost savings to the company from these safety measures. Most importantly, AmbuTrans fosters a safety culture that benefits drivers, the company and the community.