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.