May 16, 2023
Guest column by Andrew Stacey, Certified Director of Safety, National, Commercial Auto Fleet Safety Consultant, Aviva Risk Management
This column was also published by the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada
Fleet managers: do you want to improve safety, ensure your drivers are operating efficiently and reduce the frequency and severity of vehicle insurance claims?
Use your telematics data
For many years, employers and fleet managers tried various methods to manage their driver behavior on the road. With the introduction of telematics and today’s electronic engines, it’s more possible than ever before. Gone are the days of drivers calling into dispatch to provide a daily or midday update or filling out a logbook to track their driving data. Now, all it takes is the click of a mouse to pinpoint the GPS location, speed and direction of any unit. Fleet telematics are easy to implement and can transform the functionality and success of your vehicles.
Beyond that, there is gold in the data that can be gleaned from consistent and systematic reviews of the Engine Computer Module (ECM) that houses every move a driver makes. Many vehicles also have Fleet Management Systems installed, providing even more driver behavior intelligence. This data can be used for monitoring drivers, fleet optimization, and improving the success of your transportation team.
Using Telematics for Fleet Management Gives You a Competitive Advantage
Companies that adopt and unlock the data found in these telematics systems have a competitive edge in the industry because they can use it to help fleet management systems and individual drivers work smarter and more safely. This competitive advantage for your organization may include:
- Identifying fleet downtime (and its causes) and taking steps to minimize it
- Informing preventative maintenance on vehicles
- Understanding trends in driver behavior and providing proactive training or policies to address a safety or efficiency concern before problems arise
- Having a clear line of sight to assets as they move throughout their transit routes
While the benefits of using the data available in telematics are clear, what many fleet managers may not appreciate is that there are risks associated with ignoring it. Those who adopt these vehicle tracking solutions but don’t use them to their full capabilities have a much higher chance of having that information used against them when something goes wrong.
For example, when a severe vehicle collision happens, law enforcement will use telematics data as part of their investigation. Severe events can happen, even to the best, safest fleets; and companies have a moral responsibility to act on and correct negative trends. Ignoring the data that telematics can provide for your fleet can be seen as a negligent moral hazard. Not using telematics data that you have at your disposal reduces your defense. That is, what you don’t know, or fail to act upon, will be used against you.
Best practices for integrating telematics data
It can be overwhelming to consider the act of accessing, analyzing and acting on the wealth of data available via telematics systems. We recommend starting slow when analyzing vehicle telematics.
First, learn how to download the data in a way that fleet managers or other designated employees can easily and efficiently access it. You may need information technology advice to land on a management system that works for you.
Once you have a smooth way to access the data, take the time to consistently analyze it. This may be daily, weekly or even monthly, depending on the size and scope of your fleet. By reviewing the telematics data regularly, you will easily begin to spot trends in driver behavior and vehicle issues. After a few months, you’ll be able to consider how you can do things like proactively train drivers or update maintenance protocols that will help mitigate safety issues.
With a clear eye on the telematics data, you’ll begin to see how monitoring driver behavior can lead to progressive action plans that better both the driver and the company. Learning, understanding and implementing processes takes time; as that happens, so will the benefits. Data can be positive and impactful and help underpin a safety culture of fleet management.
The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice.
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