When your business primarily takes place on the road, in a vehicle, you want to know that you and your drivers are safe. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Transport records about 300 people killed every year on our roads, ranging from drivers to pedestrians and passengers. Furthermore, a recent report from the Transport Ministry found that many of these could have been prevented either through better driver behaviour or better equipment in our vehicles.
It is a sad state of affairs, but thankfully action is being taken. Since 2010, the New Zealand government has been developing the Safer Journeys programme, and has now released the third action plan in the series. This new direction includes greater driver education, the possible earlier adoption of new international safety standards, but perhaps most interestingly to those directly involved in vehicle purchasing, the idea of incentivising safer vehicles on our roads.
The march of progress
New vehicles tend to become safer over time, as manufacturers develop new safety-oriented technologies. Once upon a time, even something as ubiquitous as a seatbelt would have been cutting edge. Nowadays, we are dealing with automated braking systems, airbags, even autonomous driving just over the horizon.
However, New Zealand has a major problem – our vehicle fleet is one of the oldest in the world, with some drivers having cars that are over a decade old. As a result, many of the vehicles on our roads lack these new safety features. Even new imports to our shores can sometimes fall short of international standards. The Ministry of Transport cites, for example, side-curtain airbags as being a feature that could severely reduce the number of deaths and injuries in crashes, but despite the fact that this was introduced overseas in 2005, less than half of our vehicles have this feature.
Trying to keep up
Electronic stability control could be made compulsory for heavy vehicles.
Clearly, there is a problem, but the new action plan specifically states that they will "work with fleet buyers, importers, and operators to encourage and incentivise safer vehicle purchasing decisions". While no solid plan has been announced as yet, the action plan describes how this could take the form of linking vehicle fleet safety scoring into workplace risk assessments, while electronic stability control could be made compulsory for heavy vehicles.
However, it is still early days, and it remains to be seen how this might affect your fleet. Regardless of the changes, if you want to make the most of your budget, take the time to get a petrol card from us here at Card Smart!