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Equally important to the mechanical condition of the rental vehicle are the rental driver’s health condition, driving skills, administrative permits, driving and working behavior and required knowledge to operate, such as speaking local language and the geography that will be travelled. For further information on this matter, refer to the below section on Recruitment: selecting and testing drivers.

If rental is a long-term modus operandistrategy, consider keeping a pool of “rental” drivers that can be engage upon request. In this situation, validating and instructing batches of several drivers in a single session will reduce the time spent in this important activity.

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1.  General

  • Years of driving experience.
  • Health issues or regular use of medicines which could affect driving.
  • Conduct a simple eyesight test by having the driver read a license plate number from a distance of 20 meters. When in doubt consult a medical person for a proper eyesight test.
  • Assess knowledge on local driving laws (i.e., maximum speeds in certain location, meaning of particular traffic signal).
  • Ask about previous experience with the type of test vehicle.
  • Familiarity with 4WD controls.
  • Knowledge on basic vehicle service.
  • Good practices to load a vehicle, specifically heavy or hazardous goods.
  • How to react in case of an accident.
  • Use of the Logbook.

2. Vehicle & driving test

2.1)  Vehicle check: Assess knowledge on what should be checked before starting the engine, why this should be checked and what should be done when faults are detected. Checks may include engine fluids; tires; spare wheel, jack and tools; looking for stains under the vehicle.

2.2) Before Starting Engine:

  • Adjusts the seating and mirrors (yes/no)
  • Ensures that seatbelts are fastened (yes/no)
  • Is the vehicle out of gear, the clutch lever up and the handbrake on?
  • Checks the instrument panel, lights and indicators (yes/no)
  • Assess the knowledge on the meaning of the instrument panel lights

2.3) After Starting Engine:

  • Listens for abnormal noise (yes/no)
  • Checks the instrument panel, e.g. oil pressure light (yes/no)

2.4) Before Driving:

  • Uses of mirrors and indicators (yes/no)
  • Shows consideration for other traffic (yes/no)
  • Drives off smoothly (yes/no)

2.5) While Driving:

  • Respects the traffic rules and road signs (yes/no)
  • Maneuvers and control the vehicle correctly (yes/no)
  • Uses mirrors and indicators (yes/no)
  • Uses gears and controls correctly (yes/no)
  • Maintains the right speed considering road condition, load and other traffic (yes/no)
  • Drives defensive (i.e., leaving space between vehicles) (yes/no)
  • Anticipates hazards (yes/no)
  • Shows consideration for other traffic and passengers (yes/no)
  • Shows consideration for the vehicle (i.e., no hard breaking) (yes/no)

2.6) Check Particular Maneuvers:

  • Emergency stop (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Hill start (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Reversing (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Urban driving (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Lane changing; overtaking (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • Off-road driving (Good/Correct/Bad)
  • 4W driving (Good/Correct/Bad)

3. Security Awareness

  • Assess knowledge on main driving hazards in the area and measures to mitigate it
  • Handling main present hazards (i.e., checkpoints, car-jacking, crashes, etc.)
  • Behavior during the assessment (i.e., confident, calm, ability to communicate)

4. Use of Equipment and Tools

  • High-jack
  • Vehicle recovery tools
  • Comms equipment (radio, sat-phone, etc.)
  • Uses equipment while driving (yes/no)

Non-Professional Drivers (Staff)

In some circumstances, relying in professional drivers will be unnecessary and other staff will take the responsibility of driving themselves. This may happen when enrolling a driver is not cost-efficient but still there is a need of managing an owned fleet, including when reliable taxi services are not available, specific security risks require it, and more.

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  • Installing required equipment.
  • Drivers and users briefing and training.
  • Visibility/Identification.
  • Compliance and administrative matters.

 Required Equipment

For operating in a given context, additional equipment and vehicle customization may be required. Typical modifications for harsh road conditions may include:

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For safety purposes, the basic equipment may include a fire-extinguisher and a first aid kit.

Briefings and Trainings

Given the risks incurred while operating in certain environments, especially while moving by vehicle, a proper induction to both, drivers and users should be done. For the new drivers, this can be addressed by the fleet manager or other drivers. For the people making use of the fleet, other profiles in the organization can be assigned to deliver the briefing. In any case, the time needed to instruct drivers and users shouldn’t be neglected.

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  • Journey: schedule, duration and stops in the trip.
  • Safety and security: main threats, hot spots and expected behavior.
  • Roles and responsibilities during the movement. Role of the driver, assigned movement focal point within the vehicle(s) and at office level.
  • Communications protocol.

Visibility/Identification

Vehicles while moving are a very visible part of the humanitarian operations. When operating in volatile context or in areas with restricted access, clearly displaying the humanitarian nature of the movement may contribute to grant access or security. For this purpose, specific colours and visibility material such as stickers or flags, can be ported on the vehicle.

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If requiring intensive use of visibility material in the vehicle, make sure to have enough stock to replace it regularly. If using rental vehicles, ensure that the visibility material is handed over once the service is terminated.

Compliance and Administration

There are certain liabilities related to the use of vehicles that must be considered by any agency managing a fleet of vehicles.

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In addition to contributing for accurate planning and resource allocation, roadbooks can also help for briefing during driver’s induction or to determine communication points for movement tracking purposes.

Movement Implementation and Monitoring

Knowing the whereabouts of the vehicles at all moment is essential for a coordinated and reactive fleet management, especially when the size of the fleet is large, simultaneous movement take place and when operations are deployed in volatile contexts.

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