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Clean air: Telematics offers air quality opportunity

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Improving air quality is possibly the most pressing issue we face as an industry today, particularly given the ‘demonisation of diesel’.

So the Government’s draft air quality proposals have to be welcomed in broad terms, although we’ll no doubt argue over the details before finally shaping the way ahead.

What struck me as a positive was the inclusion of influencing driver style to support air quality improvement.

The Government estimates that 100,000 vehicles using telematics technology to improve driver style and behaviour could have a bigger impact on NOx reduction (0.35 kilotonnes over 10 years) than reducing speed limits (0.05kt), or government buying standards (0.1kt).

Given the exponential rate of telematics adoption, it seems there is a clear opportunity to make a big difference to air quality right now.

Following the draft air quality plan unveiling, many business owners and fleet managers will be concerned about the financial impact of changing vehicles to cleaner options.

In reality, it could take a generation for the UK’s five million businesses to convert all their fleets to cleaner vehicles, so we should be looking at the technology that exists today to start making a change.

Telematics in business vehicles not only influences driver style and behaviour, dramatically reducing fuel usage and, therefore, emissions, it also enables businesses to measure vehicle usage, in order to better manage it. 

The Government must give more serious consideration to the implementation of telematics technology across its own vehicles as a starting point, as part of improving its procurement processes, and the rest of the local government/public service fleet. 

It should lead by example and demonstrate the benefits to businesses whose vehicles are on the road every day, keeping the economy moving, as we all know. 

Telematics technology exists now. It can be implemented at low cost and relatively quickly which can then have a significant, real-world impact on air quality. The only question is why wouldn’t you do this today?

Nick Walker (pictured) is the managing director of RAC Commerical Solutions. 


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