Fleet News

Telematics: Making a business case

Case file: Salvation Army

“Drivers would think they were being spied on,” Peter Bonney, fleet controller at the Salvation Army

The problem

Company car drivers at the Salvation Army are ministers of religion and would feel their integrity was being questioned if telematics was fitted, according to Peter Bonney.

“They would see it as not trusting them,” he said. “I had the same issue over driver licence checking. The reaction was ‘don’t you take our word for it?’.

That was overcome by explaining their licence could have been revoked without them knowing and the duty-of- care reasons why we need to check.

“But I don’t believe that telematics is a fight that’s worth entering into.

“The technology is marvellous but we don’t need it. Our accident rate doesn’t indicate we have any cause for concern.

“We pay a pence per mile rate for fuel so if the driver has a heavy right foot it’s their pocket which suffers, not ours.

“We’re not scheduling appointments and we don’t need a route management tool. It’s not critical to our business to know where our drivers are.”

Bonney points out that even with telematics there is no guarantee a stolen vehicle will be recovered in one piece.

Vehicles which the Salvation Army leases from ALD Automotive have telematics fitted as standard but this is only to record mileage and not to monitor driving techniques.

One of these vehicles was stolen recently; it was recovered, but it was a write-off.

The responses

Road Angel says: It appears that an entry-level mileage capture solution would be more beneficial in this context, rather than live vehicle tracking with all the bells and whistles.

This would automate mileage reporting, and help them streamline expense processes.

Not only would this ensure they were compliant with HMRC reporting (a move no doubt welcomed by the ministers), it would reduce the need for manual paperwork.

Vehicle servicing, MOT, and insurance reminders would help in duty-of-care obligations, and go some way to getting buy-in from drivers with the knowledge their safety is a primary focus.

ALD says: Advanced telematics systems now allay these concerns through driver consent controls.

In line with the legal guidelines stated in the Data Protection Act, control over personal information is placed with the driver.

While telematics will record all journeys made in the vehicle, the driver can choose whether to release that data to authorised contacts within their company, or only business journeys.

Giving each driver choice is a key factor to gaining their buy-in. In many cases, drivers opt to share their information anyway.


Case file: Bracknell Forest Council

“It’s difficult to prove the business case,” Damian James, head of transport provision at Bracknell Forest Council

The problem

Damian James used telematics in a previous fleet management role and thinks the technology can be useful but he doesn’t believe it would work for his current fleet.

"In the scenario I’ve got here I can’t see how the business case could be demonstrated,” he says.

“We have a lot of vehicles doing low mileage, transporting people and kit to a location. The vehicle is then static most of the day before bringing the people and kit back.

“There wouldn’t be a huge benefit in terms of data because it would just show a vehicle in a car park all day.

“I think it would tell me something I already know pretty much.”

James isn’t convinced that knowing how the vehicle was being driven would make him invest in telematics either.

“It’s useful information but our drivers are only doing five to 10 miles a day,” he says. “I’d be paying a lot of money for that information. I can see it working in other scenarios but I can’t see the justification for my fleet.”

The responses

Motrak says: A return on investment would still be possible. Analysis of utilisation rates could identify if too many vehicles were being run. In addition, with short journeys it’s important to reduce idling as this hits mpg – telematics can help significantly with this.

Navman Wireless says: Knowing whether vehicles are parked up where they should be, whether there is any unauthorised use and monitoring timesheets could deliver a return on investment.

FMG says: Research has shown that shorter journeys can actually be proportionally more dangerous than longer ones, so the argument that telematics aren’t any use for shorter journeys doesn’t seem to add up.

Telematics is also about more than mapping accidents, it’s about mapping behaviours and taking action before the accident happens.

Tracker says: Low mileage and small fleets can benefit from telematics just as much as a fleet that has hundreds of vehicles. The majority of insurance providers offer discounts to companies using telematics, reducing premium costs.

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