Don't be afraid of Telematics

Telematics has been around for over a decade now, but its acceptance never seems to have taken off as a very useful tool in the management of light vehicle fleets. In Europe particularly, when questioned as to why exactly telematics has never been accepted in their company light vehicle fleet, either the customer Procurement, Human Resources or Fleet Managers always say: “Ah, well, there’s the privacy of the driver issue”

Over the past fourteen years I have been lucky enough to travel to numerous countries outside of Europe to review customers’ fleets. What I have found is a broad acceptance of the telematics product, and the information derived from the ensuing data has made my consulting analysis far easier and more complete. To a person, every customer utilizing telematics sang its praises as an aid to managing their fleet.

In a number of countries, where the driver’s privacy was an issue, then the telematics provider was instructed not to determine the location of the driver at any one moment. In another instance, the telematics did record the location of the driver, but was instructed not to divulge that information to the customer. But, all other factors relating to the vehicles’ fuel usage, kilometres driven, speed, excessive braking, seat belt use, idling time etc. were recorded. Vehicle manufacturers have been installing telematics in their vehicles for some time now, and eventually all will do so. So, in terms of privacy, how are these telematics different to the one’s procured by the corporate fleet user?

Telematics is, essentially, a data gathering I.T. programme, where alterations can be made very easily to the coding by the provider. Alterations such as the location of the car for example. So, I wonder why the European customer fleet teams do not consider doing the same modification. Surely, the privacy issue objection by the drivers is removed when the corporate fleet manager is unable to determine the location of any driver at any one moment?

As it is so easy to remedy the drivers’ objection regarding privacy, why has telematics been denied it place as a very useful fleet management tool for so long?
At a time when it becomes very obvious that the running costs of a light vehicle are very much influenced by the driver’s driving habits, then the telematics data should provide a huge boost in the ability to manage those drivers. I have experienced savings on the cost of fuel expenditure being reduced by 15% through the inclusion of telematics.

In summary, if telematics saves significant money on the running costs of a light vehicle fleet, and, if the privacy issue is so easily resolved, why is telematics not installed in more fleets within Europe?


Authored by: Tony Elliott