Fleet News

Telematics: Does it go far enough in reducing fleet risk?

Paul Rose, MD of RVM Fleet Services, explains why he believes fleets should take up telematics with caution.


The use of vehicle-based technology to monitor and assess driver behaviour is a growing trend but does an investment in telematics stack up in a road risk context? Here are some of the reasons why we believe fleets should proceed with caution.

One of the quoted benefits of some telematics solutions is that fleets can reduce their claim risk – and ultimately their insurance premiums - by installing gadgets that monitor, and report on,    driving techniques but the technology doesn’t come cheap and if savings don’t materialize, the return on investment will be negative.

If a red LED starts flashing on the dashboard to alert a driver to poor technique the chances are that he or she will drive more carefully. If the telematics aren’t there, the driver will revert back to their old ways. Bad drivers don’t need an alarm bell, they need to change their driving culture. The only way to achieve sustained long-term improvement that will reduce accidents and risk is to establish the root cause of poor driving and tackle it head on. Flashing lights might act as a reminder to drive more smoothly but erratic drivers needs to understand why their behaviour is risky and how they can improve their awareness and skills.

As any fleet manager knows, all drivers are different. Telematics can be used to alert drivers to all sorts of poor behaviour on the roads but they adopt a blanket approach that covers a narrow range of issues. Although the symptoms of bad driving may fall into the categories picked up by the technology, the causes will vary hugely from person to person. Driver training can be implemented throughout your fleet as a preventative measure but tailored training offers a one on one educational approach that gets to the heart of the problem, tackling

The cost of Telematics could be regarded as something of a sledgehammer to crack a nut, especially when used on drivers that don’t warrant the special attention, and should therefore only become the weapon of choice in particular circumstances.

From a cost viewpoint, it makes more financial sense to tailor a risk program using a range of cost-effective tools to instill and maintain a better attitude towards driving safety.  Additionally, in contrast to a Telematics solution, a fleet would gain more value by introducing training tools that are specific to identified driving risks, which avoids the “blunderbuss” approach and reduces wasted time and resource. 

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  • Nigel Porter - 08/10/2013 13:56

    An interesting view on the use of Telematics in improving driving behaviour and reducing the risk of accidents. Telematics systems that monitor, record and rank driving styles allow managers to identify where changes need to be made in driving techniques and those drivers that need additional training. A good Telematics solutions identifies the issue and then provides a benchmark against which improved driver performance can be measured. Driver training is one of the solutions to correct poor driving habits but first you need to identify the problem and the drivers that need training first and then measure the improvement. From that point of view Telematics is a cost effective tool of which improving driver skills, with reductions in operational costs such as fuel, is a tangible benefit.

  • Brad Lawson - 10/10/2013 12:56

    With all the recent blogs claiming that Telematics may not be an effective tool for your drivers to improve their driving on the road with the basis that it’s better to have driver be taught how to drive rather then having the actually data to see how they are driving. The first problem with this is how are you supposed to find out which drivers are in need of these lessons in the first place if you don’t have the data to prove it? The other issue I also have with this method of improving your drivers safety and fuel consumption is that if your driver drives erratically he most likely drives this way in his own car and those lessons that you spent time and money on will quickly wear off as soon as he gets behind the wheel of his own car again. If there is no tracking in place you will also have no proof of them ever working as you won’t know how he is driving after the lessons anyway. If the tracking was in place to start with you would know who the problem is with by simply running a report. This then gives you the data to discipline your driver for his driving. The point of the argument is that if the driver knows that there is a tracker in place in the vehicle than surely he would know if he did start to drive erratically he would inevitably get caught thus making he or she think twice about his or hers driving.

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