Andrew Ryan runs down three ways in which fleets are adopting innovative technologies to reduce collisions and improve duty of care.
Playing video games
Lincolnshire Police has been working with Sony PlayStation to explore supplementary driver training methods by using its Gran Turismo Sport video game.
Four of the force’s specialist operations officers spent the day at the Silverstone race circuit where they first recorded a real-world lap time before playing the game.
Any areas for improvement, such as carrying too much speed into corners were identified, with Gran Turismo Sport used to demonstrate correct techniques.
Afterwards, the officers returned to the track and all improved their lap times.
Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Shaun West says: “There will never be a replacement for traditional training methods, but we are always looking for innovative ways to supplement the learning of our officers and staff.
“If Gran Turismo can help to train world-class racing drivers, then we were keen to explore whether it could offer anything to our officers and help expand the way we think about evolving and refreshing our training methods.
“It’s important to emphasise that exploring other methods such as this is not in any way seeking to substitute the rigorous training we already have in place, but is simply another way to potentially bolster those existing programmes that our officers undertake.
"Because road safety is of paramount importance in Lincolnshire, we want to ensure our practices are as up-to-date and innovative as possible.”
Driver-facing in-cab cameras
Using driver-facing in-cab cameras “are great for driver behaviour”, says Rory Morgan, head of logistics support – Western Europe at Iron Mountain.
Many fleets already monitor driver behaviour through telematics systems, but having footage of the employee at the moment events such as harsh braking or acceleration take place puts the incident into better context.
“The cameras help you understand why you have those events,” adds Morgan.
“Is the driver looking at his paperwork? Is he eating a sandwich? Is he leaving his hand on the gearstick? It could be a multitude of things.”
Morgan says the cameras are also useful to reinforce driver training messages and monitor driver development.
“We use vehicles with driver-facing cameras in instances where the trainer keeps going out with a driver, the driver improves, and then after a couple of weeks his events start creeping up again,” says Morgan.
“With the best will in the world, the driver trainer can’t be with the driver everyday whereas the camera can be.”
Andrew Tillman, fleet strategy director for Trakm8, adds: “The combination of driver scores with actual footage of events is a powerful training tool.”
Wearable biometric technology
Service provider Amey has trialled wearable biometric technology which detects when its wearer’s body is under stress to reduce risks to drivers and lone workers.
The system was provided by Fuji and includes a collar drowsiness detector and ear clip measuring changes in blood flow which are indicators of attention loss and an initial sign of fatigue.
It also includes a location device so workers could raise instant alarms at the touch of a button.
Mike Kehoe, principal engineer for intelligent transport systems at Amey, says: “We are always looking for ways to increase worker safety and wearable safety technology has huge possibilities.
“Our eight-week trial on Highway England’s North East Regional Technology Maintenance Contract really put it through its paces.
"Every staff member on that contract drives and can be out at any time of the day or night, in all weathers or in locations like embankments and next to live traffic.
“We found the tech is transferable to other situations and could potentially provide a wealth of data about the well-being of our people which will help us improve general safety.”
Amey is considering a detailed report on the technology’s capabilities for improving staff safety across its business. It plans to evaluate other devices and suppliers.