How to reap long-term benefits from telematics
It’s not the data that fleets gather, but how they use it and what it reveals about the operational demands of their business that determines the success of telematics.
It’s an alarmingly familiar pattern – a fleet invests in driver training or telematics to reduce its risk profile, sees an initial decline in collisions, but within a year its claims profile has reverted back to pre-investment levels.
To deliver sustainable reductions in accident claims, investment in training and technology needs to go hand-in-hand with a wider risk management programme, says Andy Price, practice leader EMEA, Motor Fleet, Zurich Risk Engineering Europe.
“It’s not just making sure that all the policies and procedures are right, but most importantly making sure those can dovetail into the operating practices and procedures of the business,” said Price.
“The danger is that you can have the best fleet risk management policies in the world, and you quite often see this with customers who have taken one off-the-shelf provided by their lease company, but if the drivers and the managers can’t put that into practice because of the operational needs of the business then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Quite often what is required are changes to the operating practices and procedures in the business to create an environment in which drivers can drive safely.”
Telematics can identify incidents of poor driving behaviour, such as excessive speed, acceleration and braking, but they cannot explain the reasons for dangerous driving. Is it a case of a poor driver, or are the demands placed on the employee undermining their safety?
“For example, in a sales force of company car drivers, if a salesman is expected to take and make telephone calls while driving then there is inherent risk,” said Pric
To reap long-term rewards from telematics, fleets need to be clear on their objectives and have a comprehensive implementation programme, says Marc Trollet, managing director of MiX Telematics Europe, which has 560,000 subscribers in 113 countries for its fleet management, driver safety and vehicle tracking solutions.
“Most companies don’t have the time and resources to collect and analyse reams of telematics data, and to try and turn it into actionable information they can use to make impactful decisions,” he says. “They need to be clear about how they’re going to use this data, and to have well-defined goals and milestones that can be used to measure progress towards those goals.”
He advises getting drivers engaged in a process of continuous improvement, to increase their sense of accountability.
“Successfully implementing a telematics system requires experience, industry know-how and a robust project plan,” says Trollet.
One of the largest van fleets in the UK, Anglian Water, installed telematics across its 1,800 light commercial vehicles two and a half years ago, and has achieved so many efficiency gains, both in terms of driver and vehicle safety as well as cost (with lower fuel bills, improved tyre wear, and significantly reduced insurance premiums) that it is about to extend the programme to its company car fleet.
Key to its success is the weekly feedback that the fleet department emails each driver about his individual driving performance for the previous week, and where he ranks within his team. Line managers also see this data.
“Drivers get to see and manage their own performance,” says Stewart Lightbody, Anglian Water’s head of fleet services.
“And I use this phrase a lot, ‘You tell me if that’s acceptable or not?’ No one likes to be at the bottom of a league table.
“The line managers will discuss the score cards, and individuals get the chance to talk about their driving. They can easily see when they are making positive changes to how they drive, and they can quickly get positive reinforcement of things they are doing and how these are impacting on their results.”
Picture credit: Anglian Water