Whenever we think about things that can improve fleet safety, telematics systems should be one of your first considerations.
When used correctly, these all-seeing little black boxes have the potential to revolutionise our businesses, stop our drivers from being involved in incidents, and reduce our incident repair costs.
Fleet safety is simple – pay a little each month to have a box installed, tell the drivers they have telematics fitted, and sit back and reap the rewards. Right?
Wrong. The biggest mistake businesses make when it come to telematics is not understanding beforehand what they want to achieve from this investment. After all, telematics is just one tool in the fleet manager’s arsenal to help improve fleet safety and reduce incident numbers. It improves visibility of fleet vehicles, tells managers where the issues lie, who is at highest risk and, more importantly, where their time and efforts should be focused. But this information shouldn’t be read or analysed independently as it is only half the picture and, if used in isolation, can be very misleading.
For example, let’s take a driver who, according to the telematics data, has just recorded a ‘red’ event (a serious issue which shows a sudden harsh braking incident). Reading this data independently, you could conclude the driver wasn’t paying attention and as a result had to take evasive action to avoid hitting the car in front. Depending on the company policy and understanding of the data, this could result in the driver being made to take additional training and being flagged as a high-risk driver.
But what if we take the same event and read this in conjunction with other data sources? From analysing the drivers trend over a period we see he is a good, safe driver, mostly ‘green’ journeys and from incident reports, has never been involved in a crash.
Suddenly this event looks out of character and following a conversation with the driver it transpires a car pulled out from a side road and due to his awareness and quick response, he was able to avoid an incident. So the ‘red’ event has gone from a negative to a positive.
Now this type of scenario isn’t that uncommon. My personal belief is that drivers don’t set out to intentionally damage vehicles. Incidents happen, external influences creep in and events unfold. It may be a gradual decline of maybe increased demands and pressures placed on a driver might be slowly having an adverse effect on their risk awareness. This is where telematics can help.
By using the data to better understand a driver through trend analysis, looking for patterns in behaviour that indicate a driver is becoming less risk conscious or their driving style is slowly deteriorating. This is how telematics can best be used to improve fleet safety and improve driver standards in the long term.
Telematics is a wonderful tool and, when used correctly, it can be the most powerful tool in a fleet manager’s toolbox, but it is important to remember the data alone will only ever give you the question and never the answer!