Fleet telematics: Changing driver behavior for the better

Vehicles driven for work purposes clock up the highest mileage on Britain’s roads. With research into the UK’s Fleet200, made up of Britain’s 200 largest fleets, recently revealing an average 35 per cent accident rate, an increasing number of businesses are prioritizing health and safety and seeking new methods to promote a safer driving culture.

Driver safety technology has come to the fore as a solution able to tackle this challenge and change driver behavior for the better.

Health and safety

Trimble recently commissioned an independent report titled ‘The Road Ahead: The Future of Field Service Delivery’ that involved in-depth interviews with 100 managers and directors of businesses in the UK with fleet and field operations spanning a range of industries. It found that 80 per cent felt that health and safety was a higher priority than five years ago.

As a result, 73 per cent of respondents provide regular briefings on how to drive more safely and 70 per cent have a written policy on safe driving. Furthermore, 51 per cent surveyed agree that the technology they are using to manage safety of their employees is in need of updating, with 44 per cent stating that their risk assessment software is in need of the most improvement.

Driver safety solutions have risen to the challenge of helping businesses to improve health and safety procedures. The technology and in-vehicle telematics available today monitor driving behaviour, offering real time feedback to the driver so they can instantly change their driving style as well as providing complete back office analysis of aggressive manoeuvres, such as hard acceleration, braking, turns and speed.

With this data at hand, recommendations on training can be made for individual drivers, resulting in lower accidents and liability, therefore helping to manage the risks associated with work-related driving.

Lowering accident rates

With the UK also now the most expensive in Europe for insurance premiums, lowering accident rates can also have a financial as well as safety impact. Many insurers are now using telematics data to assess the overall risk of a fleet in terms of driving behavior and offering risk management advice and actions that, if taken by the business, will result in a lower premium. If insurers can minimize their liability by understanding the true risk posed by a fleet customer they can pass that benefit back through financial moderation.

Insurance companies that offer telematics to their customers will allow both parties to fairly weigh and assess their fleet risks. For the customer, this means they can continually measure and manage poor driving behavior. For the insurer, this means lowering accident pay out costs and gaining insights to incidents and unsafe driving behaviors. Trials run by Trimble have seen accident reduction rates of 45% and a reduction in accident costs of over 50%.

Driver safety reporting

Trimble has certainly seen a shift in what its customers want from driver safety reporting. The capabilities of the technology enable every aspect of a fleet operation to be identified, measured, and analyzed, focussing on individual areas of reporting and delivering greater intelligence to fleet managers. Not only does this information enable businesses to identify improvements from a safer driving perspective but better driving also means more economical and greener driving, another key focus for those organisations running fleets.

Having risen to record proportions, fuel prices were cited as the number one barrier to achieving field service excellence in the latest Trimble research. If changing driver behavior means safer driving then it also certainly means a cleaner, cheaper fleet for fleet managers.

The Road Ahead report found that driving skill is also taken seriously by businesses and is strongly linked to the representation of the brand in the public eye. As a result, many organizations are using ‘how is my driving?’ stickers, which display a contact number to call if a driver is perceived to be performing poorly on the road. While 88 per cent of respondents agree that the number is never (or rarely) called, 94% believe they do produce improvement in driver behavior. 

This suggests that the core impact of using these stickers is intangible, providing a psychological incentive for the driver to be conscious of his or her driving behavior. If this improvement can be raised simply by the addition of a sticker with a call to action, then the correlation between the presence of a telematics system and driver behaviour will be even more positive, especially when the employee can be informed of the specific driving behavior that needs improvement.  

Mark Forrest is general manager for Trimble Field Service Management (FSM).

For more on fleets, see Industry insight: Fleet telematics.

For the latest in fleet telematics, check out Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2012 on November 13-14 in Atlanta.

For all the latest telematics trends, visit Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2012 on December 4-5 in San Diego.

Coming up in 2013: V2X for Auto Safety and Mobility Europe 2013 on February 19-20 in Frankfurt, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2013 on March 19-20 in Amsterdam, Insurance Telematics Europe 2013 on May 8-9 in London and Telematics India and South Asia 2013 on June 5-7 in India.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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