Fleet News

Safety: Three ways telematics can improve safety

Installing the technology can have a significant influence on the incident rate of a fleet. Here Andrew Ryan looks at how you should use the data

Identify drivers for targeted training

Data captured by telematics can be used to identify drivers who need training as well as the type of coaching required.

The technology can be configured to record a variety of events such as harsh acceleration, sudden braking or hard cornering – all manoeuvres which increase the risk of a collision.

“Using these insights, businesses can identify where training might be required to improve driving behaviour and, in turn, help lower costs across the fleet,” says Jonathan Hewett, vice-president of Octo Telematics.

Andy Phillips, director of Applied Driving Techniques, adds: “Telematics is an effective way of identifying certain driving events, but it is then about analysing this data to identify regular issues and patterns.

“For example, if someone is consistently harsh braking at high speed, then they could be driving too close to the vehicle in front.

“However, it is not simply about looking for poor driving behaviour, but also the root cause that is contributing to higher levels of risk.

“By looking for patterns at certain times of the day, a fleet operator can establish if there is a problem with fatigue.

“Meanwhile, excessive events at month-end or year-end could suggest employees are under pressure to meet targets, which is contributing to increased risk.”


Case study:  Iron Mountain

Information storage and management specialist Iron Mountain uses telematics to identify drivers who need coaching.

“Our supplier’s scoring method is to achieve less than 20 ‘events’ per 10 hours of driving, which it regards as safer driving,” says Rory Morgan, head of logistics support, Western Europe, for Iron Mountain.

The company aimed for less than 10 when the system was introduced in 2011 as it “was a more acceptable target”, but in the past couple of years has changed this to less than five.

“We felt we could go further by moving the target again,” says Morgan.

“We monitor these scores daily at a local level, but also have a weekly report which precedes a conference call to discuss the previous seven days and highlights all scores and violations.”

Drivers also have annual driving assessments carried out by Iron Mountain’s regional driver trainers.

“The scores from the telematics system, along with the driving assessments, are fed into a data system which also carries a driving licence history, incident history, tachograph infringements and road traffic incidents,” adds Morgan.

“These are then collated and a risk profile score produced for every driver. We then use this data to prioritise both individuals and areas of concern.”

Trainers are used to guide and coach both drivers and managers.

He adds: “The operations in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Spain consistently average around four most weeks.”


Positively influence driver behaviour

Employees will often drive more safely if they know they are being monitored.

“This draws on  some elements of the psychological phenomenon, the Hawthorne Effect,” says Nicola Ridgeway, consultant psychologist and clinical director at West Suffolk Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Service.

She adds: “This study demonstrated that people alter their behaviour when they have an awareness of being observed. The Hawthorne Effect may well explain why telematics drivers will, on the whole, drive more safely.” 

Masternaut’s customers have seen significant improvements in speeding and harsh driving just through installing telematics, says Mike Hemming, head of consultancy at the company.

“It is a reminder that the company takes driver safety and driving behaviour seriously,” he adds.

A number of telematics systems give drivers a visual reminder they are being monitored by having green, amber and red lights in the cab to give instant feedback to drivers on their performance.

Masternaut has carried out a study on the impact on in-cab feedback directly to the driver compared to just tracking, using vehicles from more than 400 companies over a period of three months.

Over the course of the study, cars with in-cab feedback had 25% fewer harsh driving events than cars with no immediate feedback.


Case study: Green Tomato Cars

Green Tomato Cars this year introduced a GreenRoad telematics system across its fleet to improve driver behaviour and reduce collisions.

The telematics system detects when a driver performs a manoeuvre such as sharp cornering, swerving, harsh braking or sudden acceleration. 

It features a ‘traffic light’ system that sits on the vehicle’s dashboard: a green light means driving is safe, amber that it is straying away from the safest driving practices and a red light indicates that a risky manoeuvre has just been undertaken.

“The telematics has had a massive impact on our accident costs,” says Sophie Jacobsen, head of service delivery at the private hire company.

“Last year our accident costs were £3,200 per active driver over the course of a year. Now we are looking at £2,300.”

Across the fleet, this means an annual saving of around £250,000. Jacobsen says the display serves as a constant reminder to drivers of how they need to perform. In the first six months of operation, drivers recorded a 33% improvement in their telematics scores.

Habtamu Behailu, a driver at Green Tomato Cars, adds: “ has certainly helped me improve as a driver as it gives tips to improve my driving and has made me more aware of my actions, which is good for me and good for passenger safety.”


Encourage competition to improve driver behaviour

Harnessing the competitive spirit of drivers can be used to encourage them to improve their performance.

Data recorded by telematics systems can be used to produce league tables, with rewards such as gift vouchers available for the best performers.

“Any incentive scheme should not simply focus on the best drivers, but look at ways of rewarding the most improved employees,” says Andy Phillips, director at Applied Driving Techniques.

“A driver of the year competition may seem like an excellent way of promoting road safety best practice, but, in reality, it will stimulate only a small proportion of drivers who are already driving in a safe manner.

“The remainder, including the worst performing drivers, will ignore the scheme because they have no means of winning.

“Instead, consider a way that celebrates the greatest improvement, because what you really want is a continuously upward trend across the entire fleet.”

Sam Footer, head of international business and strategic development at Intelligent Telematics, adds: “Any league table needs to reflect the varying demands placed on different employees.

“Someone that predominantly drives in an urban environment will face very different challenges and risks when compared to someone who spends most of their time on motorways or rural roads.

“Therefore, it is important that any incentive scheme is fair and does not penalise certain groups of drivers.”


Case study: Enserve Group

Introducing a driver league table using data recorded by its telematics system was “one of the best initiatives we have introduced”, according to Paul Brown, fleet manager at Enserve Group.

The system allows the company to compare drivers in a number of areas such as speeding, sharp cornering and idling. The league tables were initially introduced in one of the business’s depots.

“We ran the scores in a league table with a football focus, so it’s like Premier League, Championship and Conference league, with Sunday league at the bottom,” says Brown.

“Without doing anything else, the peer pressure between grown blokes was doing more to drive the accident stats down than we could have done.

“There were football chants about how the other drivers had performed, and that put them under pressure not to be in that position the week after.

“Little bets were also being made like ‘if I beat you in the driver league then you wash my van on Friday’. Nobody wanted to be the loser.

“The accident stats came down by around 25% in that depot. The guys were driving a little slower, they were more cautious, they weren’t idling, and we’ve got to the stage where it’s now become part of the main board initiative across all divisions.”

The company rewards the best performing drivers with vouchers.

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