Fleet News

Risk management: Dazzled by telematics, but training is better

Mike Rees, managing director, Drive Alive UK, looks at road training.

A worrying trend has developed in the way that fleets are approaching driver risk management.

Fleet managers, dazzled by technology, have been blinded to good old-fashioned common sense and
this is preventing them from maximising reductions in accidents and associated costs.

This can be blamed on an increasing inclination to choose just one approach to risk management, monitoring driver behaviour through telematics, when other approaches can work better and a combination of approaches works best.

The presence of a telematics device in a vehicle can brow-beat drivers into compliance with speed limits, bringing some improvements in fuel consumption and some reductions in accident rates (despite the presence, with many telematics systems, of a dashboard-mounted box with a row of flashing lights that can distract the driver).

But it’s all too easy to be dazzled by the disco lights and trend-setting technologies and forget one simple truth: there’s little point in monitoring a driver’s behaviour if they haven’t been taught how to drive safely in the first place!

Instruction in defensive driving is not the rocket science that some telematics producers might tell you they’ve invented, but it really works. High-quality instruction in the police system of driving will result in much higher levels of on-the-road concentration, observation and anticipation.

This modifies driving behaviour in a way that’s much more sophisticated and wide-ranging than anything achieved by bullying black boxes. This means defensive driving instruction results in even greater savings in fuel consumption, greater reductions in vehicle wear-and-tear costs, and greater reductions in insurance and accident costs. 

The most effective way to make a driver safer is through real-world on-the-road training with an expert instructor.

Training reduces the numbers of driving ‘incidents’ flagged-up by a telematics system, and if problem drivers are identified through telematics, the effective way of fixing the problem is not through questioning or criticism from a manager, but through on-the-road training intervention.

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  • Brett Aquila - 08/08/2014 09:02

    Sure, but who pays for it? It's easy to say we need better training. Even politicians know that. But nobody has come up with a cost-effective way to make that happen. If you increase the requirements for schooling you increase the tuition. Being unable to pay tuition is already a huge problem preventing the industry from recruiting enough drivers. If you put the burden on the trucking companies to improve their training programs you're forcing them to compete with one arm tied behind their back. Most of their competitors will be hiring experienced drivers and won't have the financial burden of training (and then insuring) new recruits. So who pays for the increased training and how is it done? Should companies be doing it? Should government step up the regulations and require schools to improve the curriculum? If so then who covers the increased cost of tuition? In the U.S., the Government won't back student loans for truck driving schools the way they do for Universities. Making it easier to get student loans for truck driving school would have a major impact on the number of drivers coming into the industry. You can increase the tuition and the training requirements for schools if the government will back student loans for truck driving school.

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