Reducing the incidence and impact of motor vehicle claims in emergency fleets

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned ReportResearch


Since 2006, CFA has experienced a significant increase in the number of vehicle insurance claims. The RIIMVC project (Reducing the Incidence and Impact of Motor Vehicle Claims) explored the reasons behind the increase in claims and aimed to identify interventions that could potentially address these increases. The research involved extensive investigation and analysis of a range of CFA datasets relating to vehicle activity, vehicle insurance claims, vehicle risk, vehicle claim injuries and major collisions. The project team (from VIMA and CFA) identified a range of trends, which were used, in conjunction with a series of stakeholder workshops, to develop the RIIMVC Stage 1 recommendations and initiatives. The completion of RIIMVC Stage 1 provided CFA a better understanding of the factors influencing vehicle claims, and a report that forms the foundation for the implementation of RIIMVC Stage 2 Project core activities.
The purpose of the current project was to build on CFA’s current evidence base relating to vehicle insurance claims by providing further evidence on the efficacy of driver safety interventions more broadly and how these might be used and/or prioritised by CFA. Specifically, the project considered:
o Which driver and vehicle safety interventions have been shown to be successful (in general road safety, corporate fleets, and emergency vehicles); and
o Whether there are additional driver and vehicle safety initiatives (other than those in the RIIMVC report) that should be considered by CFA
Broadly, the evidence on road safety indicates that focusing on one element of a system (e.g. the driver) does not result in the best safety outcomes. Rather, understanding the system as a whole (and particularly interactions between the different elements of a system) is critical. This is true for both general road safety, and for work-related driving. In fleet safety, there is strong evidence to support a multi-faceted approach. In addition to targeted interventions at the individual-driver level which focus on strategies such as incentives, group discussion, feedback and goal setting programs, there are clear roles for senior-level management and workgroup supervisors in creating a safe driving environment. A fleet safety management approach that provides all of these elements provides a strong impetus for cultural change. Further, the research suggests that interaction across multiple levels within an organisation has the capacity to modify behaviour. Understanding the factors contributing to crash involvement beyond the individual driver is critical to developing relevant and targeted preventive strategies.
For CFA more specifically, this review incorporates information from site visits and meetings with key personnel at CFA. The recommendations target the key problems experienced by CFA, including: reversing vehicle damage, collisions with buildings (particularly fire stations) and other stationary objects, crashes while proceeding through red lights, seat-belt use, and general compliance with safety training and protocols. The potential interventions listed below cover various elements of the system including culture, governance/policy, human factors, and technology – they do not take a reductionist approach to focusing on individual drivers only.
Potential short-term interventions
• Install seat-belt signage in all emergency vehicles covering all seating positions.
• Retro-fit reversing cameras to emergency vehicles where possible.
• Change seat-belt fastening mechanisms to the left hand side (or the side of the seat away from the release handle for the seat integrated respiratory equipment) for all rear seats in emergency vehicles to prevent tangling with respiratory equipment.
• Implement a familiarisation protocol / resources for all corporate vehicles.
• Retrofit reversing sensors to corporate vehicles where sensors and cameras are currently not fitted
• Investigate the viability of low profile, pedestrian friendly polycarbonate bull-bars for corporate vehicles with high travel exposure in areas with high risk of animal strike.
• Undertake human factors based review of fire station layouts and usage to identify station specific problems related to vehicle-infrastructure and vehicle-person interactions to develop and prioritise potential solutions. Stations to be reviewed in order of priority based on claims frequency.
Potential medium-term interventions
• Ensure new corporate vehicles purchases have highest possible safety specifications (if necessary aligned with the VicFleet vehicle purchasing policy which will change after the cessation of local vehicle manufacturing), and add any specific components required by CFA:
• ANCAP 5-star requirement for both passenger vehicles and light commercials
• Autonomous Emergency Braking mandated for all passenger vehicles with high speed AEB functionality if possible.
• Specify additional driver assist technologies wherever possible including blind spot monitoring, fatigue monitoring, lane keeping warning / assist
• To offset reversing damage, ensure newly purchased vehicles are fitted with reversing sensors and cameras as a minimum and front proximity sensors and 360-degree cameras where possible. Specify autonomous reverse braking where possible.
• Ensure all new vehicles have seat-belt sensor technology fitted.
• When purchasing new emergency vehicles, ensure seat-belt sensor technology and reversing camera/sensor technology is fitted.
• Change fire station door warning lights to full length LED strip lighting to show when doors are fully open, particularly for doors where there is automated closing.
• Change CFA policy to mandate stopping before proceeding through any intersection with a red light.
• Standardise licensing and training requirements across both career and volunteer firefighters; including licence requirements, hours driving, log-books, completion of training modules etc.
• Implement and enforce a zero BAC policy for all individuals driving emergency vehicles. Provide provision for preliminary testing of BAC at CFA stations.
Potential long-term countermeasures
• Revisit Emergency Vehicle Priority (EVP) at traffic signals which provides a green signal to the direction of the approaching emergency vehicles (when safe to do so) to clear traffic and provide a path for the emergency vehicle. While this was not approved by the federal government in 2006 due to radio frequency access issues, this has recently been implemented in Queensland so could potentially be applied to Victoria.
• Redesign existing fire stations where possible and design new fire stations to accommodate drive-through doors and appropriate height/width clearance.
• Standardisation is important for compliance and safety management of any vehicle fleet – consider the development of organisation-wide safety standards and protocols for the purchase, modification and maintenance of emergency vehicles (i.e., ensure vehicles are fit-for-purpose).
• Implement routine safety inspections and testing to gauge compliance with safety standards.
• Implement an organisation-wide program to address the cultural barriers around road safety, particularly among volunteer firefighters.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyCountry Fire Authority (CFA) (Victoria)
Number of pages57
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Road safety
  • Fleet drivers
  • Emergency vehicles

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