Work-related road safety guidance should be updated to recognise the “significant safety benefits” of vehicle technologies such as telematics for managing driver behaviour, a new study has found.
The review by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) suggests several additions to the Government’s official guidance for managing work-related road safety, known as the INDG382.
TRL found telematics can have “significant safety benefits” for dealing with problems like speeding or fatigue, and may be able to reduce crash involvement.
However, it warned that a lack of comprehensive past research means the effectiveness of these monitoring systems is not firmly established.
The review shows four categories of technology have proven benefits for fleet safety: telematics systems, Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA), Drowsiness and Distraction Recognition (DDR) and collision warning systems.
Of these, ISA technologies were highlighted as “particularly effective”. DDR technology showed promise but TRL warned that fleets should not use it to replace policies like proper shift schedules.
The research also recognised that while in-vehicle feedback can be useful for addressing dangerous driving behaviours, fleets should not rely on it too much as it may distract drivers from the road.
Other systems were examined but had not been evaluated in the context of work-related driving.
If fleets want to implement these technologies, TRL recommends that they do so based on their own individual risks and use the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach, supported by documented policies and procedures.
It also highlights the importance of leaders demonstrating their commitment to the new technology, and advises fleet managers to consider monitoring the smallest number of indicators that will let them effectively manage their risks, to avoid the potential for feeling “overwhelmed by data”.
Useful indicators include speed, harsh braking and acceleration, swerving and cornering at a minimum.
The research also suggests trialling a basic or minimum level of any new technology prior to rollout, possibly in just one depot or team, to evaluate its impact before full implementation.