Public transport business sparks an economic chain reaction that generates business activity, creates jobs, boosts property values and tax earnings, maximises transportation spending, and gets more people to work.
At a time when competition for resources is fierce, capital funding for public transportation becomes an investment.
Public transport in many African cities is a challenge, because of not having enough or effective public transport services. Many cities in Africa face major hurdles when it comes to traffic safety, air quality, and physical inactivity.
More of road traffic deaths occur in middle and low-income countries, precisely where urbanisation is accelerating most rapidly. About 1.3 million people die pre-maturely every year due to urban air pollution and accidents, a figure that increases as more cars take to the road. According to the latest World Health Rankings published in May 2014, road traffic accidents deaths in Rwanda reached 3.16 per cent of total deaths. Most of road accidents are caused by reckless driving, wrong maneuver, violation of right of way, speeding, wrong overtaking, poor mechanical conditions of the vehicles, fatigue of the drivers, missing civic sense, to mention but a few.
Though reducing accident management costs and making long lasting changes in a fleet operation is hard work, it leads to substantial cost savings as well as the a potential tool to save the lives of the fleet drivers and the general public.
The following factors in transport management can reduce accidents and costs in public transport business.
Fleet policies and procedures
Strong controls over costs through programmes and policies make up a complete fleet safety policy. The policy must entail risks and safety measurements that must be aligned to the company vision and mission in relation to the country’s transport policy in place.
The fleet management should have the procedure of reducing preventable accidents, as well as adopting fleet driver safety and risk management systems. These systems constantly assign risk scores to drivers based on an on-going stream of behavioral data, and then delivers consequences when a driver’s score raises above defined risk thresholds.
In the long run, a complete policy creates a comprehensive safety policy that is read and signed by drivers. It must be updated and can change over time depending on situations and trends.
Conducting driver training
The driver training options should be managed internally or outsourced. By embracing safety awareness, the training brings the biggest impact to the company fleet management and the company fleet budget. Safety awareness and training continues to be the main components for reducing accidents.
Technology has helped in some instances but not to the magnitude of safety training impacts towards the decrease in accidents. Companies that embrace safety awareness and ongoing training have reaped multiple benefits, including decreased number of accidents, less real cash paid for repairs, third party activities, decreased liability claims, and fewer injuries and fatalities.
Utilisation of Technology
Adoption of safety technologies like Antilock Braking System (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS), and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) plays a key role in reducing road accidents.
In a vehicle equipped with an Antilock Braking System, wheel-speed sensors measure the speed of rotation of the wheels and pass this to lock; it intervenes within milliseconds by modulating the braking pressure at each individual wheel.
In doing so, ABS prevents the wheels from locking and ensures safe braking; the vehicle remains steerable and stable to reduce the braking distance. Since ABS helps in avoiding the accidents, it is termed as an active safety system.
Airbags, on the other hand, are called passive safety systems, they try to reduce impact on the driver on occurrence of an accident. This, combined with the seat belts, tries to reduce the injury and worst cases of fatality on the roads.
As our country increasingly develops its infrastructure, the number of vehicles increases as well. But these life saving technologies, along with others not mentioned, become a priority for saving lives.
Repairs cost management
Repair costs are other area fleet managers should consider to reduce accident costs; for example, the use of certified aftermarket and high-quality used parts, and resorting to less-expensive paint less dent repair (PDR) to offset accident expenses.
Collaborative logistics technique
Collaborative logistics is said to be achieved when two or more organisations enter into a partnership for the purpose of optimising operations related to transportation by sharing equipment, vehicles, information or carriers to reduce the costs and overcome situations when the carrier that contains their concerned shipment is almost empty or at less-than-usual capacity. It is also beneficial for controlling inventories, thereby eliminating stock-outs that are likely to impact customer service.
Use of reverse logistics technique
Reverse logistics stands for all operations related to the reuse of products and materials. It is “the process of planning, implementing, and controlling efficient, cost effective flow of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from the point of consumption to the point of origin for the purpose of recapturing value or proper disposal”. This helps the company to gain value from the scrap.
In conclusion, the best way to reduce accident costs is to work hard to prevent accidents through team work effort among all fleet stakeholders; for example, government organs like traffic police, regulatory agencies as well as the community.
The writer is Board Secretary, Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC)