Questions and Answers






Questions about Vision Zero & Safe Road Use strategy, AI and implementation


  1. Q: How does UNHCR aims to achieve zero fatalities and injuries?

A: UNHCR has developed multiple activities, from developing a Safe Road Use strategy to conducting Safe Road Use workshops at field level. We will also soon launch the Administrative Instruction for Safe Road Use which helps to embed safe road use in UNHCR operations and which is in line with the overall UN road safety strategy developed by the Inter Agency Security Management Network and which is based on the so-called ‘Safe Systems Approach’.

As communication is an important element of Vision Zero UNHCR has developed a Safe Road Use website where UNHCR personnel can find information. UNHCR also sends out regular communications in the form of newsletters and emails. In the longer term, crash analysis and investigation will help to better understand road risks and thereby help to reduce traffic crashes. Once we know why crashes happen we can identify measures and control mechanisms to prevent similar crashes from happening again.


  1. Q: Who is responsible for the implementation of Vision Zero and Safe Road Use?

A: UNHCR believes that each and every staff member has a responsibility to contribute to Vision Zero by being the safest road user possible. The Safe Road Use Steering Committee champions the implementation of Vision Zero and Safe Road Use. This group exists of representatives from the Staff Welfare and Medical Section, Field Security Service and the Asset and Fleet Management Section and they manage and execute the annual work plan for Safe Road Use.

  1. Q: Is there a policy on Safe Road Use in UNHCR?

A: Currently the Steering Committee is working on an Administrative Instruction (AI) for Safe Road Use. This AI is in line with the soon be launched UN-wide road safety strategy.

  1. Q: The organisation requires that road safety is embedded in our operational processes. This requires resources; can we get additional budget from HQ?

A: No, at HQ level there is no additional budget available for Safe Road Use and country offices are required to include budget for Safe Road Use activities in their own budget. That said, experience has shown that investing in road safety pays off in the long run. If the organisation is involved in a crash, there are many hidden costs that UNHCR is confronted with, for example man-hours lost from injuries, legal costs, costs related to hiring temporary vehicles or temporary staff which are not covered by insurance. To prevent these hidden costs UNHCR needs to act on safe road use now to prevent future losses to the agency.

  1. Q: In my opinion zero fatalities and injuries is not realistic given the conditions in which we operate. How can UNHCR achieve this ambition?

A: The fact that UNHCR operates in challenging environments should not be an excuse to accept that people die or get injured by vehicles operated by UNHCR and its partners. .

UNHCR and its Partners operate in an environment where traffic rules and regulations are not necessarily enforced by the local authorities, where road safety education is not a given fact and where the (technical) state of roads and vehicles does not always support safe road travel. However, in such circumstances UNHCR and Partners should do even more to prevent crashes from happening. At the same time, we need to accept the idea that people will continue to make mistakes when participating in traffic and, following the Safe Systems Approach, we should build a strong protective system around road users to mitigate the impact or consequences.

  1. Q: UNHCR is working in emergencies, how can we achieve zero fatalities and injuries?

A: We can reduce the risk of being involved in a road crash with fatalities and injuries by always adhering to road safety rules and not jeopardizing our own safety (or that of other road users). Staff can not use the excuse that UNHCR is working in emergencies to justify poor planning and inappropriate driving behaviour that results in crashes, fatalities and injuries to themselves or other road users. A good way to start is to always respect the 10 BE ROAD SAFE rules.

Questions about reporting, data, crash analysis etc.

  1. Where does UNHCR get the data about crashes, fatalities and injuries?

A: For UNHCR, GFM Insurance compiles the data about crashes, fatalities and injuries, based on the incidents reported. The medical section and Field Security Service also collect data about crashes in which UNHCR personnel and/or UNHCR vehicles are involved. Reporting of all road crashes is an important element of the Vision Zero strategy, as it will give more insight in the reasons why crashes happen. Global or country specific data, used in the Safe Road Use Workshops, can come from multiple sources such as the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety, ministries of transport, local NGOs for road safety to name a few.

  1. Q: The number of crashes is increasing since the start of Vision Zero, how can you say that the programme is successful?

A: In 2015 UNHCR Global Fleet Management introduced the self-insurance scheme. Before the introduction of this scheme many crashes went unreported to headquarters and were managed within the country operation. Now with the scheme there is better reporting by UNHCR offices. It is therefore logical that the number of reported crashes is higher than before. Also UNHCR’s previous policy to provide a Safe Driving Bonus to those drivers, who had no incidents throughout the reporting period was counter-productive, as incidents, which had happened were simply not reported. With the AI/2015/25 this has now changed and contributes to the reporting of increased number of reported incidents. It is expected that we reach stable reporting figures in 2018 after which we envisaged a decrease in the number of reported crashes as a result of managers and staff adapting and implementing the Vision Zero strategy and adhering to the Safe Road Use AI.

  1. Q: Does UNHCR know whether the reported crashes were all the fault of UNHCR?

A: Currently, there is no thorough crash analysis done on UNHCR’s side and the documentation regarding vehicle incidents is limited. For the moment, the first priority is to get all the crashes reported. Once this is established and well functioning UNHCR will focus on the analysis. Any serious crashes though are reported to the IGO for their investigation should they deem it necessary.

  1. Q: What will be the purpose of crash analysis? Isn’t it true that in most cases a driver or other road user is at fault?

A: Crashes never happen because of one reason only, but often have multiple causes, leading to a chain of events what experts call ‘the domino effect’. The aim of the analysis is to find better prevention methods and implement control measures to avoid similar crashes happening in the future.

  1. Q: Do you calculate the number of crashes per kilometre driven? Or the number of crash free kilometres that UNHCR drives?

A: Since not all country operations are using FleetWave (UNHCRs fleet management system) we cannot calculate these figure yet.

Questions about Safe Road Use workshops, Event in a Box

  1. Q: I am not directly involved in fleet management nor do I have driving responsibilities. Why do I have to participate in the workshop?

A: Everybody uses the roads, whether they are commuting to and from work, whether walking on the streets. Whether you are a driver for UNHCR or use your own car, bicycle or motorbike. UNHCR has a duty of care for UNHCR personnel as road users and wants all our personnel to be safe on the roads. Equally no third party (people of concern, other road users) should be negatively impacted by our road travel.

  1. Q: What will be done with the recommendations to management that we make during the workshops?

A: Your suggestions will be presented and discussed in the Safe Road Use Management workshop. Senior management will select the actions they deem feasible to implement; these actions will be reflected in the country action plan which will be posted on the Safe Road Use website.

  1. Q: Why do I need to sign the Safe Road Use pledge?

A: The Safe Road Use pledge is a promise you make to yourself to be a safe(r) road user. You can pledge to make the roads safer by noting a change that you will make in your behaviour while using the roads. The pledge can be made on the Safe Road Use website or in the signing ceremony during the Safe Road Use workshops.

  1. Q: What do you do with the Safe Road Use pledges?

A: The Safe Road Use pledge is your personal commitment to Vision Zero and is a document that is yours to keep. We only track the number of people that sign the pledge, either in the Safe Road Use workshops or on the website.

  1. Q: We want to do more Safe Road Use activities in the office. Where do I find information or what tools are available to me?

A: We have developed a so-called ‘Event in a Box’, a box filled with materials that offices can use to organise additional Safe Road Use activities. In Q3 – 2017 we will be piloting the boxes in 10 locations. Once the pilot has been completed and evaluated, the Event in a Box may become available for all interesting parties in Quarter 2 of 2018.

Questions about driving, safe road use behaviour etc.

  1. Q: How many hours can a driver drive without breaks?

A: The GFM Fleet Management Handbook recommends that a driver should take a short break (of 15 minutes) after 2 hours of driving. This is in line with recommendations from expert organisations such as WHO and Fleet Forum. More guidance on managing driver fatigue, driver working hours and driving hours can be found on page 70 onwards of the GFM Fleet Management Handbook.

  1. Q: What should a driver do when he is sick or not feeling well and feels he is not able to drive?

A: The driver should inform his / her supervisor and seek advice from UNHCR medical section or regional medical doctors. Together they can decide if the driver should take sick leave or if the driver can perform (non-driving) tasks in the office.

  1. Q: How often should I get myself tested on my fitness to drive?

A: Information on when to do periodic medical examination is on the IOM/FOM 55/2013. All drivers do a periodic medical examination (PME) every year; staff in general takes the PME at different intervals depending on their age.

In case you suspect that you have a condition that affects your ability to drive safely (for example problems with your vision, sleeping disorders, high blood pressure, etc.) we advise you to get yourself checked earlier and contact the medical section and do not drive until you are sure you are fit to do so.

  1. Q: Is it allowed to use hands free communication devices?

A: Throughout the UN, the rule is that communication devices can only be used when the vehicle is parked in a safe place. This rule is also adopted by UNHCR. Also, in many countries it is illegal to use communication devices whilst driving and UNHCR staff should abide by these laws.

  1. Q: Is the risk of being involved in a crash lower when I use earphones, blue tooth or other hands free devices?

A: The risk of being involved in a crash is not lower when you use hands free communication devices because it is the distraction from driving that causes crashes. In other words: when you answer a phone or VHF/HF radio call whilst driving, you cannot concentrate on the driving task anymore and, according to WHO and other road safety experts, the risk of being involved in a crash increases with 400%. 

  1. Q: What should I do when I am driving and my boss / manager / supervisor calls me?

A: There are several actions that you can take:

  1. One of the passengers that is with you in the vehicle can take the call or;
  2. You park the car in a safe place before taking / returning the call.
  1. Q: What should happen if we, for example, arrive with 6 people at a vehicle that has only 4 safety belts?

A: You can either take another vehicle that has enough safety belts or use a 2nd vehicle, so that everybody who needs to travel has a safety belt. Not wearing a seatbelt significantly increases your risk on severe injuries or even getting killed in a crash. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has analysed that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.

Not wearing seatbelts as a back seat passenger can increase the risk for the people sitting in front of you and your ‘flying body’ can increase the severity of injuries or even kill the driver or front seat passenger.

Questions about service incurred injuries and Appendix D claims

  1. Q: Why should I file a claim for service-incurred injuries after I have been involved in a crash?

A: You need to file a claim for service-incurred injuries to be eligible to receive compensation (or your dependents in case of your death). This claim needs to be filed within a year after the crash occurred. Claims and supporting documentation should be send to Headquarters Liaison & Compensation Unit, HR Staff Services at [email protected]

  1. Q: Appendix D (compensation for service incurred injuries or fatalities) states that road travel from home to the office and back (commute) is covered if I take the most direct route with no deviations and via reasonable means of transportation. Our security instructions state that we have to change our routes and take detours when commuting. What will happen if I am involved in a crash whilst not taking the most direct route? Am I still covered?

A: You would be covered upon proof that the security instructions were in force and that the commute was uninterrupted. Such deviation will have to be clearly explained and the route used be a reasonable alternative. In no case will a claim be accepted if there is an interruption in the commute, such as for visiting a family member, shopping, social activity, etc.