By Mark Forrest, general manager - field service management division, Trimble
Last year, road death and serious injury increased for the first time in almost a decade with more than 1,900 victims being killed on Britain’s roads.
With vehicles driven for work purposes clocking up the highest mileage and with research into the UK’s Fleet200 recently revealing an average 35% accident rate, a growing number of fleet-based companies are prioritising health and safety and turning to driver safety technology to help reduce accidents, mitigate risk and promote a safer driving culture.
Trimble recently commissioned an independent report titled ‘The Road Ahead - The Future of Field Service Delivery’ which involved in-depth interviews with 100 managers and directors of businesses in the UK with fleet and field operations spanning a range of industries and found that 80% felt that health and safety was a higher priority than five years ago.
As a result, 73% of respondents provide regular briefings on how to drive more safely and 70% have a written policy on safe driving.
Furthermore, 51% surveyed agree that the technology they are using to manage safety of their employees is in need of updating, with 44% 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.
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 behaviour and offering risk management advice and actions that, if taken by the business, will result in a lower premium.
If insurers can minimise their liability by understanding the true risk posed by a fleet customer they can pass that benefit back through financial moderation.
Insurance companies who 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 behaviour.
For the insurer, this means lowering accident pay-out costs and gaining insights to incidents and unsafe driving behaviours.
Trials run by Trimble have seen accident reduction rates of 45% and a reduction in accident costs of over 50%.
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 organisations 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% of respondents agree that the number is never (or rarely) called, 94% believe they do produce improvement in driver behaviour.
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 behaviour.
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 behaviour that needs improvement.