NSW council improves safety of fleet with GPS

A NSW council says incorporating GPS into its fleet assets has helped establish a safer and more efficient fleet, reduce accidents and save money.

Peter Armour

Central Coast Council has one of the largest road-registered local government fleets in NSW and, due to the size of its local government area, decided to opt for an electronic GPS-based oversight to manage its fleet.

During 2020, it worked closely with its vehicle sub-committee to develop data usage terms of reference to safeguard against privacy concerns.

Council provided GPS driver and system user training for over 800 staff members and continues to implement driver compliance and vehicle utilisation reviews.

“There were many reasons why GPS was introduced, however, at the start of the process, our Council was impacted by having too many under-utilised vehicles as a result of amalgamation,” fleet manager Peter Armour told Government News.   

“The use of data for decision making around retention or sale decision-making enabled us to take the emotion away from most discussions with stakeholders.”

Council has now been able to cut down on its fleet size.

“Vehicle-use data has enabled us to reduce our fleet size yet continue to meet our transport demands and providing Council with significant capital and operational savings,” Mr Armour said.

“This data, combined with our fuel data, has led to a one-off retrospective fuel tax credit uplift and ongoing optimised monthly fuel tax credits in the vicinity of 17 per cent compared to the past.”

Council’s approach to calculating fuel tax credits was previously based on guessing, which left it exposed to under or over claiming, Mr Armour said.

Investigating accidents

Central Coast Council has also incorporated GPS for driver identification and communication, pre-start checks and defect reporting.

“We can communicate directly to our drivers all at the same time via messaging and the drivers are able to communicate with the office as well,” Mr Armour said.

“(In the past), our office-based teams, including workshop staff, always had difficulty contacting mobile drivers.

“The GPS has enabled our drivers to identify journey purposes, electronically record pre-start checks and defect notices, removing the need for paper.”

New systems have been implemented to improve the safety of fleets, including new work order management systems and defect triaging processes, key access systems and electronic vehicle booking.

Mr Armour says Council is able to better investigate motor vehicle accidents.

“For driver behaviour and or crashes, we were unable to prove or disprove onsite events and could only rely on the driver or police version of events.

“Now we have that data and our claims to the ATO are far more accurate and supported with vehicle location data if required.”

“Our staff are more mindful of their driving behaviour and this is evidenced in a reduction in at-fault accidents over the past two years.”

Peter Armour, Unit Manager, Plant and Fleet for Central Coast Council.

The ability to track vehicles and drivers is keeping staff more alert and better informed, Mr Armour says.

“Generally, our staff are more mindful of their driving behaviour and this is evidenced in a reduction in at-fault accidents over the past two years,.

“Knowing the whereabouts of our vehicles and drivers is always important to proactively manage workplace safety, security and to minimise waste.

Award-winning initiative

The strategy has been so successful that earlier this month, Council took out the Australasian Fleet Management Association’s 2022 Fleet Safety Award

“Winning such a prestigious award from a peak industry body such as AfMA means that our initiatives have been independently assessed and recognised as current industry-leading practice,” Mr Armour said.    

“This result is a credit to and reward for much hard work undertaken by many Council staff over the past four years in improving vehicle and driver safety culture.”

Council has also been nominated as a finalist in eight NSW Local Government Excellence Awards, with winners to be announced next week.

Damian Lee, Enterprise Applications Business Development Manager Teletrac Navman Peter Armour Unit Manager Plant and Fleet, Central Coast Council Drew Schnehage, Managing Director, Innovation Group (Supplied by Central Coast Council)

Over the next 12 months, Council will refine processes and undertake further manager and driver training to improve its compliance standards.

“We recognise that driving motor vehicles is one of the most dangerous activities that many of our staff will perform in their working days,” Mr Armour said.   

“The actions that we have taken over the past four years, we believe, have reduced not only the road safety and trauma risk for our drivers, but has also provided us with environmental benefits and financial returns well beyond the full cost of implementation.”

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