1 mar 23

Why instant feedback is vital to improve driver behaviour

Real-time, in-vehicle coaching delivers the most effective improvements in safety and fuel economy, according to a connected vehicle technology specialist.

For connected vehicle technology to have the greatest impact on driving behaviour it needs to provide instant feedback to drivers, rather than rely on retrospective action, according to Lightfoot. The fleet management solutions provider offers a full telematics service, but says it is the real-time in-vehicle coaching, allied to an innovative driver rewards scheme, that is enabling fleets to improve their fuel consumption, cut their carbon emissions and boost their safety.

The dashboard-mounted Lightfoot device (pictured top) uses a nudge system of green to red lights, as well as audible alerts, to signal to drivers when their driving style is most efficient, and when it departs from this zone.

Paul Hollick, managing director of Lightfoot (pictured above), said: “It’s important to put the driver at the centre of everything that goes on in the vehicle, and giving real-time feedback gives the opportunity to coach the driver while they are driving.”

This avoids the need for fleet managers to analyse historic telematics data in order to identify poorer drivers, and also means that fleets can improve the behaviour of all of their drivers, rather than being constrained by time and resource into focusing on the worst performers, added Hollick.

Prizes and self-policing

Drivers can access their driving scores via the Lightfoot app, and when their score reaches 85%, they qualify for a weekly cash prize draw, where one-in-nine drivers wins a prize.

“The system means drivers become self-policing, without fleet managers, depot managers and line managers having to become too involved,” said Hollick.

Data privacy protection

Fleet decision makers can access the driving performance data, and while 96% of customers adopt Lightfoot with a full telematics package, the option to use the in-vehicle system without tracking holds great potential for countries such as Germany, where workers’ councils have objected to telematics because of data privacy issues.

“We’re seeing more interest in our platforms in Canada, the US, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Spain,” said Hollick, adding that Lightfoot had just recruited James Littlechild to be its new international sales director.

EV benefits

While the system started as a way to improve fuel consumption – on average delivering a 10-15% reduction in fuel use and a similar saving in carbon emissions – it is also proving successful with electric vehicle fleets.

“One of our customers, an energy company, has seen a 17% increase in range by using our kit, which is a fundamental gamechanger in terms of the distance its vans can achieve during the working day,” said Hollick. “Fleets also get better uniformity of range among both electric cars and vans using our solution, because drivers are all getting coached in the same way, so they don’t find as many outliers in terms of poor range. This means they also achieve a profound carbon saving, even when driving electric, because of the reduction in kWh that they consume.”

Trials by East of England Co-op saw an 80% reduction in instances of harsh acceleration, a 25% drop in harsh braking, and a 20% fall in harsh cornering after installing Lightfoot, leading to fuel savings of 13.8%. With a fleet of vehicles shared by 550 drivers, the system makes it simple to target driving performance without having to attribute individual journeys to individual drivers, and it’s succeeding. When the system was first introduced, 59% of East of England Co-op’s drivers achieved an Elite Driver score; the percentage has now risen to 96%.

Luke Warren, Health & Safety Manager at the East of England Co-op, said: “For years we’d looked at different telematics options, but all were extremely time and labour-intensive, requiring extensive analysis and post-event feedback to drivers, which tends to have low impact. We wanted a simple self-managed solution that actively helps and motivates our drivers on the road. Lightfoot delivered exactly that with its in-cab dashboard mounted device, which guides our 550 vehicle users to be smoother, safer, and more mindful drivers, thanks to its audible and visual in-cab alerts.”

John Moran, Transport and Training Manager for Public Sewer Services, which runs a fleet of 132 vehicles, describes Lightfoot’s in-cab coaching and weekly prize draws as ‘training by stealth’, and said it has had a profound impact on the company’s safety record. Accidents and incidents involving PSS's vehicles have fallen from one incident or accident per 54,700km (34,000 miles) driven in 2017, to one every 127,000km (79,000 miles) today.

The system has also improved PSS's fuel consumption by 15.5% in a year and reduced its emissions by a similar amount.

“As a business, we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment,” said Moran. “Lightfoot engages with our drivers in real time, delivering ‘in-the-moment’ coaching, modifying driving styles for the better, and preventing more costly styles of driving. That reduces harsh acceleration, braking and cornering, resulting in lower emissions, less fuel use, reduced vehicle wear and tear, and fewer road incidents.”

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Authored by: Jonathan Manning