City of Inglewood Implements Programs to Cut Accident Costs

September 2007, Government Fleet - Feature

Most fleet managers have accepted the fact that as long as there are vehicles and operators, accidents are inevitable — a normal occurrenceand expense of operating a fleet. The City of Inglewood, Calif., however, hopes to change this mindset.

When a fleet agency’s vehicle is involved in an accident, the costs go far beyond the repair of the vehicle. Depending on the severity of the accident, costs can pile up with Workers’ Compensation claims, loss of productivity, third-party litigation, legal expenses, and equipment downtime, according to Rick Longobart, fleet services superintendent for the City of Inglewood. These factors, when combined, can cost a city millions.

Seven Elements of Success
The City of Inglewood’s accident costs have risen continuously throughout the years. The city is now taking an aggressive approach to reducing these costs. It hopes to reduce accident occurrence by implementing several different programs, part of its “7 Elements of Success” initiative, according to Longobart.

The first element, the WebTech Wireless Quadrant System — installing global positioning systems (GPS) in city vehicles — has already been implemented. The city has installed GPS in 30 vehiclesto monitor location, speed, and utilization of city equipment.

The second element, currently installed on five vehicles (all paratransit buses), is DriveCam, a system that records video of the vehicle and driver 10 seconds before and 10 seconds afteran event has occurred. This system is an added precaution to monitor driver behavior visually.

According to Longobart, the system, triggered by g-force, alerts the fleet manager of the incident through a streaming video reviewed via computer and when integrated with GPS, the system sends an e-mail notification to the supervisor and risk manager that an accident has occurred.

Clips of incidents are sent to the city’s legal department for assessment. The videos can be beneficial to fleet agencies, providing clear evidence when the city driver is not at fault in an accident, thus helping clear the city of liability.

Another preventive feature of DriveCam is that when it is triggered, it shows up on the city’s GPS computer screen as a warning flag and sends a message to the supervisor via e-mail or text message,reporting the vehicle was involved in either an accident or poor driving condition.

The DriveCam system is related to Inglewood’s third “Element of Success”— the CCG System, FASTER Fleet Management Software System, which enables the information to be interfaced into the city’s information system.

The fourth element Inglewood has implemented is a Reverse LCD Sensor System for high-severity vehicles. This technology indicates to drivers how close they are to an object when backing up. An LCD screen mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard alerts the operator both visually and audibly of an object’s position to the rear. The vehicle’s distance to the object is shown on the LCD screen, measured in feet. An audio tone increases in volume as the vehicle approachesthe object.

The fifth “Element of Success” is a driver training program, P.A.C.E.,which concentrates on driving behavior and accident prevention. P.A.C.E. stands for:

  • Plan ahead.
  • Analyze the surroundings.
  • Communicate with others.
    Execute safety.

    This training program is required for new hires and for individuals involved in accidents. If the accident numbers diminish, however, the city may implement the training as an annual refreshercourse, says Longobart.

    The city has also created a City Accident Review Board program, the sixth element. The review board assesses each accident and determines whether the accident was avoidable and what disciplinary action should be taken. In many cases, the disciplinary action will involve the driver training program.

    The final element in the city’s seven-part program is CEI’s Vehicle Accident Risk Management System, which manages vital information, including “the unit, the number, the vehicle, the date it occurred, the VIN number, and the accident report,” according to Longobart. They can contact a body shop company to pick up the vehicle for repair. The CEI system also allows management to track increases/decreases in accidents, accident prone locations, etc. They can run graphs and uncover statistics based on this information.

    The seven programs were adopted and approved by Inglewood city administration less than six months ago, so it is still too early to tell how they are affecting driving behaviors. As the programs progress, GPS and DriveCam will be installed on more vehicles, expanding the monitoring of city drivers.

    According to Longobart, these programs are expected to save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, reduce the need for legal action, and increase productivity and city vehicle uptime.

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