16 juin 21

How to improve fleet safety through data

Improving fleet safety will always be a prominent issue for fleet managers. To add to our “How to:” series of articles, in this one we examine the role of fleet data in helping improve fleet safety.

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Fleet technology is exploding with innovation, especially around the collection, analysis, absorption and transformation of data to improve fleet safety. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other in-car technologies, such as audible warning systems, have gone a long way to improving driver safety but making sense of data for safety applications may still be in the shadows for many fleet managers.

Data, applicable to safety, can come from many sources: telematics, vehicles (on-board computer devices), drivers, in-cab and external cameras, ‘black box’ insurance devices, mapping technology and others. In the near future, as smart cities fully emerge, there will be a whole connected infrastructure collecting even more data that will instruct fleet managers as to how vehicles are interacting with their environment, each other and pedestrian objects.

How to utilise fleet maintenance data for fleet safety

The first data set to explore (and the one fleet managers can control) is to do with vehicle maintenance. Here are some tips for maintaining safe vehicles.

  • Regularly schedule preventative maintenance. Many fleet management systems automate odometer readings and support automated alerts for drivers and fleet managers when service or maintenance is due.
  • Preventive maintenance can be based on time-lapsed, engine on-time, driven mileage, and warning indications from vehicles to reduce breakdowns or maintenance-related accidents.
  • Tyre pressure data will also alert drivers to when pressure is concerning.
  • With connected vehicle data, warnings such as brake lining wear, brake fluid, coolant level, tire pressure, and window washer fluid warnings, can be used to alert drivers and trigger a corrective action.
  • Commercial drivers should be trained to undertake walk round inspections of vehicles each day.

How to utilise connected vehicle and driver monitoring data

  • Proactively manage vehicle operation to cut down (or cut out) risky driving, such as speeding, using a mobile phone while driving, driving under influence.
  • Speed limiters, breathalysers and other operating restrictions can be applied to vehicles where appropriate. These include ‘no start without seatbelt’, disabling mobile phone use while driving, clearing a breathalyser test before the vehicle will start and so on.
  • When brought into a fleet management system this data can help reduce risk and increase visibility. Fleet managers can be alerted to dangerous driving behaviour and monitor working hours so fatigue-based driving issues can be dealt with in real- time.
  • Integrating embedded vehicle data into a fleet management system can enable fleet managers to track how a vehicle is being driven and monitor elements such as speeding, idling, harsh braking or swerving alongside use of the vehicle after hours.
  • Dashboards and reports within fleet management systems can be used to proactively identify and report issues and trigger the necessary training.
  • Even the most experienced drivers need feedback to become more conscious and careful.

How to utilise driver behaviour data

  • In addition to the above, fleet safety training programmes reduce the likelihood of incidents caused by careless driving.
  • Studies have shown that driver coaching is most effective when combined with vehicle data and dashcam video footage evidence.
  • Building consistent, data-driven coaching is the key to improving driver behaviour and lowering safety-related costs.
  • It’s important to promote a culture of safety and motivate drivers by offering incentives to good driving behaviours and active participation in training programs. 
  • Use data as evidence, not punishment.
  • Use your fleet data to negotiate better insurance premiums.

How to turn fleet data into practical applications

  • Driver incentivisation – a driver scorecard is a type of performance evaluation based on specific driving metrics such as speeding, idling, swerving, harsh braking, measured via tracking or telematics systems.
  • Scorecards work best when used to incentivise better driving or flag up where it’s needed most (for which drivers). It’s not meant to be used as a punishment or a “spy-in-the-system”.
  • There are various scorecard solutions available that enable fleet managers to set their own parameters for what is acceptable driver behaviour for their business.
  • In addition to safety, scorecards can measure other things like productivity, fleet optimisation and compliance.

Data is most valuable when applied in practice to solve problems or bolster initiatives like fleet safety. Having a fleet safety policy is one thing, putting it into practice is another and data is the driver for that.

Photo copyright: Shutterstock

Authored by: Alison Pittaway