– By Caroline Falls –
Fleet Auto News recently interviewed Fiona Wright, acting assistant director-general of Strategic Asset Management, the business unit within the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, which manages the state’s public fleet of almost 10,000 vehicles.
We talked about the unit’s input into the state government’s strategic plan to reduce road deaths. The document titled Safer Roads, Safer Queensland; Queensland’s Road Safety Action Plan 2015-17 lists 57 initiatives, including double demerit points for two or more mobile phone offences and advocating a rollout of seatbelt interlock technology that would prevent the engine starting before the passenger clicks in the seat belt.
While many of the actions have implications for business and how they manage their fleets, we honed in on three:
Action 23: “Investigate the feasibility of enabling an employer to receive information about an employee who receives an offence notice while driving a company vehicle.”
Action 30: “Facilitate the early deployment of new vehicle technologies including Co-operative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) and autonomous vehicles and their application to enhancing the safety of pedestrians and bicycle riders.”
Action 34: “Maintain high minimum safety specifications for all new passenger and light commercial vehicles in the Queensland Government fleet, and channel safe vehicles into the local used vehicle market.”
Here’s Wright’s responses to our questions:
FAN: Have you had any input to the Qld Road Safety Action Plan?
Wright: Yes, we were consulted during the preparation of the plan, and fully support it.
FAN: We’ve identified three actions (numbered 23, 30 and 34) that may be of particular interest to fleet managers. Regarding action number 23, What are some of the pros of enabling a fleet manager to obtain information about an employee who receives an offence notice while driving a company vehicle? Can’t you already get this information?
Wright: If an employee receives an offence notice while driving a company vehicle we can track them but it takes time. If we can get that information directly it would certainly expedite the process. Ultimately, getting this information faster means we could respond to any issues faster. It’s about improving safety and driver training, increasing accountability, and identifying any trends so that we can help ensure our drivers are safe road users.
FAN: Regarding action number 30, it sounds like the Qld Government is backing the deployment of CIT-S and autonomous vehicles. Why do we need government support here?
Wright: Any new technology which improves road safety deserves the attention of fleet managers. Government support for new technology helps establish a viable market for the product, in both the new and used car markets.
FAN: Does the inclusion of action number 34 in the document require any changes at QFleet management, or is it business as usual?
Wright: No, maintaining high minimum safety specifications on all our fleet cars is business as usual, as is channeling high quality and safe vehicles into the local used car market.
FAN: What are some of the other key actions in the plan that will affect how businesses and transport fleets are managed?
Wright: While each business and transport fleet across the state could be affected differently, from a QFleet perspective there’s no other specific action that would affect our management. Generally speaking, introducing new technology usually incurs higher initial costs, but the long-term road safety benefits are invaluable.
FAN: How many vehicles are there in QFleet and what is the composition of the fleet?