Journey management is a planned and systematic process for reducing transportation-related risks in a company’s operations. In short, it is a key element of safety in the workplace—for fleets and other employers. Across all industries, motor vehicle crashes cost employers approximately $9.25 billion a year, according to the National Safety Council.
Moreover, research shows that human error is the definite cause of truck or car accidents 70% of the time, and the probable cause 93% of the time.
Therefore, every journey management plan should take into account that your drivers are your greatest safety feature. In short, a company's drivers are its best defense in protecting the organization from risk and liability.
When developing a journey management plan keep in mind that the key objectives of the plan should be to eliminate unnecessary trips, reduce driving distances, and minimize the risks associated with necessary trips.
A solid journey management plan will focus on four key factors: the roadway, your drivers, the vehicle, and the environment. For example, you need to consider route planning in order to make sure drivers avoid construction or closed roads. You need to consider the behaviors of your drivers; for instance, if they are getting enough sleep before hitting the road. Then there are factors such as vehicle maintenance and weather conditions, which must also be considered when developing your plan.
Benefits of a Journey Management Plan
Commercial fleet management frequently deals with multiple vehicles engaged in long-distance driving—in some cases from one end of the nation to the other. But even relatively short journeys can benefit from thorough planning. A proper fleet logistics management plan should guide drivers through each stage of their journey, with the aim of supporting highway safety and accident prevention policies and procedures.
Your plan should aim to mitigate the following hazards:
- Driver inexperience
- Distracted driving behavior
- Poor road conditions
- Driver fatigue
- Wildlife on the roads
- Adverse weather conditions
- Malfunctioning vehicles
- Unsecured projectiles
- Risky behaviors of other drivers
- Communication failure
For commercial fleets, the benefits of a solid journey management plan are many, according to the National Safety Council. These include:
- Eliminating unnecessary trips to reduce crash risk
- Minimize exposure to traffic hazards
- Reduce wear and tear on fleet vehicles
- Increase fleet and driver efficiency
Elements of an Effective Journey Management Plan
A fleet safety plan should begin by outlining pre-journey inspection procedures. This involves checking to see that the vehicle is in sound operating condition and is up to date on preventative maintenance service. To aid this task, the fleet driver (or inspector) should have a checklist—these days, it’s often in the form of a mobile app—that includes all areas of the vehicle that require inspection. These areas typically include:
- Ignition system
- Fuel system
- Electrical system
- Exhaust system
- Vehicle frame
This can seem needlessly time-consuming, but ensuring that these inspections are completed, and correctly recorded, can go a long way toward bolstering fleet safety and reducing company or driver liability in the event of an accident.
There should also be a procedure where the inspector can take pictures of problem areas and transmit them to the appropriate company authority.
The journey itself should be mapped out so drivers can take the most efficient route to their destination in order to minimize fleet mileage and promote auto safety. This should include usable alternate routes in case of road blockage, inclement weather, or similar hazards. That’s why it’s important to customize each plan for every specific trip, as conditions may have changed since the last time a journey was made down a particular network of roads.
The route should allow the driver to avoid low-clearance obstacles, such as bridges, that can prevent the vehicle from safely passing through. The driver should know the exact dimensions of the vehicle so they can readily comply with posted clearance requirements.
The plan should also be created with the aim of preventing “road fatigue” from becoming a factor in a long-distance driving trip. Driving while sleepy reduces reaction times and makes collision avoidance far more difficult; this is why so many road accidents can be traced to driver fatigue. To ensure optimal highway safety, journey plans should permit the fleet driver to be on the roads only when they are most likely to be sufficiently alert, and adequate rest breaks should be included in the itinerary.
The plan must also provide guidance to the driver in the event of an accident, vehicle failure, or other emergency situation. Trucking tips for the driver should include what to do and whom at the company they should call.
It’s important to understand that a journey management plan is not just a formality. It provides a number of vital benefits that support effective commercial fleet management: promoting sound fleet logistics, enhancing fuel efficiency of vehicles, reinforcing accident prevention practices, reducing risks associated with road fatigue, and ensuring that routine maintenance tasks are followed on schedule.