The city is hoping to save hundreds of thousands annually by limiting the number of avoidable collisions involving city vehicles – and they’re going to do it using data.
During November’s mid-term budget review, City of Calgary administration presented a plan to reduce the number of avoidable collisions involving city vehicles by 10 per cent of current numbers in 2021. It would be further reduced by 35 per cent of current numbers in 2022.
City vehicles were involved in 779 collisions in 2019 – 391 were avoidable. (Numbers for 2020 weren’t readily available.) That’s down from 1050 total collisions in 2018 (493 avoidable) and 985 / 503 in 2017.
Preventable collisions cost Calgary taxpayers $1.4 million in 2017, $1.24 million in 2018 and just under a million in 2019.
The city has more than 4,000 vehicles and pieces of equipment combined. In 2019, they drove 36.7 million kilometres total.
The City defines a preventable collision as one that could have been avoided using preventative driving tactics, such as careful driving on snow and ice. According to fleet services director Sharon Fleming, avoidable collisions include backing into things, not ensuring enough clearance for vehicles, etc.
Since she joined the city in 2018, Sharon Fleming said she’s taken a proactive approach to collisions. Fleming said there are more frequent vehicle inspections and training.
“I think what we’re doing is we’re building a culture of driver safety that hasn’t been there, prior to 2018,” Fleming told LiveWire Calgary.
According to the city, the Solutions for Achieving Value and Excellence (SAVE) business case only included tax-supported business units. They said the result of these action will have a greater reach city-wide.
The first step, Fleming said, was to provide access to vehicle reports across all of the different city departments. The reports include information on specific vehicle performance.
“We can see based on vehicle, how that vehicle is being driven,” she said.
“Based on that information, we can work with supervisors of those areas to determine what kind of additional training their particular group could use.”
This year, they’re going to add a driver-specific set up. Each driver will be identified and tracked on their driving.
“We’re not planning to use this for punitive reasons. We’re going to be using it solely for education,” she said.
“We’ve worked with the unions, we’ve talked about it with them because they figure this is low hanging fruit. If we can improve how we drive, we are increasing safety, and we’re reducing costs, so it’s a win-win.
They bump up training, including with the city’s driving simulator, to address some of these areas.
What they can track
Aside from being able to track things like mileage and general use and travel patterns, which help for maintenance, they can track specific driver behaviours.
“Our technology that’s currently on the vehicles right now can actually indicate to us who’s harsh braking, hard turning – you know, the behaviours that correlate to more risky driving,” Fleming said.
She said having that specific correlation allows them to pinpoint specific driving habits the might require more instruction.
With the introduction of the city’s new flex fleet program, which allows better use of vehicles across different departments, drivers can be tracked via a unique ID.
“Regardless of the vehicle they use, the profile will follow them,” Fleming said.
“We’ll just target the training directly to the driver.”
If the city meets the avoidable collision reduction targets, it could save more than $100,000 this year, and $300,000 by 2022.
The cost savings include materials and staff time to make the repairs. Most damage in avoidable collisions are scrapes, small impacts and dents.