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Vehicle risk management

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Vehicle Risk managementIn this tough and highly competitive road transport market, truck owners and operators cannot afford to ignore the daily basic function of vehicle risk management

The function of risk management involves much more than preventing vehicle crashes, it embraces the entire comprehensive package of all the vital basic components that lead to a world-class, economically viable transport operation.

The manager, who is responsible to carry out the function, needs to analyse, assess, manage and monitor all forms of risk – daily.

Ideally, the job of managing the vehicle risk function of a fleet of commercial vehicles should be executed by the transport manager, as he is the person closest to the daily operations and best suited for the job. He must, however, have the full backing and support of the senior management in the company. Without this support, the function of vehicle risk management will fail.

Checking and inspecting a number of basic functions and procedures will highlight tell-tale signs that could be the start of a component failure, which could result in an unnecessary and expensive roadside breakdown, or a vehicle crash. Drivers should be taught how to identify these signs.

Scheduled and well-documented daily pre-trip inspections go a long way to ensure the fitness and safety of the vehicle. The pre-trip inspection must cover all the basic safety-critical items.

Once the vehicle leaves the yard, the driver is in full control of all the operating costs (like fuel, tyres and maintenance) and, therefore, the management of the driver must be a high priority on the manager’s risk-control sheet.

With the current unacceptably high accident rate and the growing number of irresponsible and reckless road users, truck operators have to manage and educate their drivers on ways to avoid road crashes, as well as on how to care for the vehicle that they drive.

It is not only some irresponsible drivers that cause accidents, deteriorating road surfaces also lead to road crashes, for example. A driver’s lack of knowledge of the road traffic regulations and poor understanding of how to operate the vehicle can also result in accidents. At the very least, this results in higher operating costs for the operator.

Take fuel, for example, which represents approximately 40 percent of the total operational costs of vehicles in long-distance operations today. Daily monitoring of fuel usage and cost is, therefore, essential.

To achieve good fuel consumption, the vehicle must be driven in a proper manner, so monitoring the fuel consumption after every trip is a necessity.

The fuel consumption of each vehicle needs to be checked every day and measured against a benchmark. When the consumption is higher than the benchmark, an immediate investigation must be undertaken to determine the cause, and action to rectify the problem must follow.

Managing and controlling fuel consumption also results in other big financial savings. The driver cannot obtain optimum fuel consumption if he or she abuses the vehicle. When the vehicle is driven professionally and optimum fuel consumption is achieved, saving on maintenance and tyre costs automatically occurs.


One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.


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