Fleet Safety

Fleet Risk Management: Improving Driver Safety & Training with Telematics

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Fleets are legally required to install ELD devices in their vehicles due to the ELD mandate. The mandate only requires a device that logs driver hours in real-time, but many fleet managers see the benefits of using a full telematics system. Telematics offers a comprehensive look into fleet vehicle use— gas consumption, brake usage, engine functioning, and so forth. While many fleets recognize this technology’s advantages, they don’t always use it properly and therefore do not leverage its full capabilities. We’re talking about fleet risk management.

Fleets often focus on the cost-cutting and efficiency benefits of telematics. Managers can plan efficient routes, avoid delays, and reduce secretarial costs. These are significant improvements for any fleet, but safety is just as important. A stronger focus on safety can save your fleet thousands of dollars annually and potentially millions in the long run by avoiding lawsuits.

Collectively, fleets lose an average of $60 billion each year due to accidents. Each accident costs a fleet company approximately $15,000 - 70,000. If the accident results in an injury or fatality, accident costs can jump even higher. This figure does not include the damage to your company and your reputation. You may lose inventory, encounter delays, or face accusations of negligence.

If you’re using telematics systems to save your company money, then your focus should include safety. The increasing claims of loss are a direct result of driver behavior, and monitoring your drivers with telematics is the most effective way to reduce costs.

What is Fleet Risk Management & How Does Telematics Help?

Fleet risk management is the attempt to reduce risk to a fleet. This includes driver safety and training, vehicle maintenance, and fleet compliance. The reduction of liability is typically a top concern for fleet companies, as it should be.

Where telematics can help is by giving you more visibility into performance. Telematics systems often include:

That last feature is a significant focus when assessing risk management. A telematics system is like a black box in an airplane — it records speed, maneuvering, idling, braking, and other details. This data is useful in the case of an accident claim, but it can also adjust preventative training to improve your drivers’ road behavior.

For instance, one of your drivers regularly cuts corners too quickly. Another driver brakes too late, forcing them to slam on the brakes at stoplights and stop signs. You can see this behavior on your telematics software and can use it to tailor training to each individual. This insight will help your fleet avoid accidents, prevent excessive wear, and reduce insurance costs. Below, you’ll see how to take advantage of this and include it in your leet risk management planning.

Using Telematics to Adjust Drivers’ Behavior

When approaching fleet risk management planning, you must think like an insurance company. These companies calculate rates based on risk assessments. They know that substance abuse accounts for 30% of accidents, that distracted driving resulted in 3,166 deaths in 2017, and that drowsy driving resulted in 90,000 accidents and 795 deaths in 2017. Worst of all, speeding claimed the lives of over 10,000 people in 2016.

The U.S. Department of Transportation conducted a study on the use of telematics and safety. They saw a 50% reduction in sudden acceleration, hard braking, and aggressive maneuvering. There was a 33% reduction in speeding in day cabs and a 42% reduction in speeding of sleeper cabs. One of the most widely cited studies is from the SAMOVAR DRIVE project. This study saw a decline in crashes of 28% with the use of telematics.

Insurance companies use these resources to assess risk and set insurance premiums, but they also use these studies to encourage GPS insurance discounts. Some insurance companies will even pay for you to install telematics systems. It significantly benefits them when your fleet drivers focus on safety, but it helps your fleet company just as much.

After assessing your fleet risks, the next step is integrating telematics with training. Telematics allows you to measure a driver before their training and after to ensure adherence and effectiveness. It also identifies specific problems with a driver’s behavior on the road. Use it to tailor training and adjust training over time. In the past, fleet managers were unaware of driver behavior until an accident or ticket. The only adjustments they could make were through confrontation and corrective action. Telematics equips you and your drivers with another solution. It's a preventative measure that is also more likely to reduce your driver turnaround.

All of that may sound great, but here are specific examples of what you can correct with GPS fleet tracking and telematics systems.

Speeding & Aggressive Driving

GPS fleet trackers monitor speed, acceleration, braking, cornering, and much more. These driving behaviors result in wasted gas, more wear on vehicles, and a greater likelihood of accidents. When a fleet manager begins tracking these behaviors, it reduces the chance they’ll occur as drivers are encouraged to stay on their best behavior.

Bad Driving Trends

Telematics systems don’t just inform and record driver behavior in real-time. It also creates reports on individual drivers and assesses trends. Sometimes a single incident of bad behavior won’t register, but a fleet safety management system bolstered with telematics spots recurring trends. It provides predictive analytics and devises training recommendations.

Apply this to driver training and encourage improved driving with incentives and rewards. Since you’re able to track good driving as well, you can reward those who are exemplary. Rewarding good performance helps to shift the company culture towards safety and driver satisfaction.

Excessive Time on the Road

GPS has seen impressive improvements over the last few decades. One advantage to that is better routing and reporting. We can now see in advance if there is construction or an accident on a planned route. From this, we can draw more efficient routes to avoid these delays.

Also, the GPS tracker notifies you of unplanned stops, detours, idle times, and more. Notifications give you insight into waste incurred from drivers. Again, the simple act of monitoring reduces these instances, but the big draw here is that you’re improving routes—and less time on the road means better efficiency for your fleet, overall.

Emergency Situations

When emergencies happen, it isn’t always the driver’s fault. However, you might not know of the accident if the driver is incapacitated or injured. Many telematics systems will alert emergency services and fleet managers of incidents so you can know right away and send emergency help, if necessary. You’ll also be able to quickly send another truck to transport goods and avoid delays or dispatch roadside assistance for repairs, fuel, and other needs.

Another thing to consider is that you’ll know where your drivers are at all times. For instance, a snowstorm damages the vehicle or makes it impossible to continue. The storm may last for several days or several hours. The vehicle’s heating shuts down, or the driver has no food or water to wait out the blizzard. Before telematics, stranded drivers would essentially be on their own. Even if you sent someone to help them, you might not know precisely where to find the driver. GPS ensures your driver’s safety in any type of emergency.

Maintenance Issues

A vehicle with issues is more likely to break down and more likely to cause accidents, costing you extra money and impacting your bottom line. Keeping up with routine maintenance and focusing on preventative care are the best solutions to keep expenses down. With vehicle fleet telematics, you’re able to monitor oil life, tire pressure, and much more. You can also schedule regular maintenance alerts to ensure you stay up-to-date on battery checks, tire rotations, and the like.

Poorly-maintained vehicles cost you money and put your drivers at risk. Avoid this with a fleet telematics system.

Making Improvements to Your Fleet Safety Program

Fleet risk management plans are only useful if standards are thoroughly maintained. Raising the bar is one way to ensure that the changes you make stick. Start slow, and focus on improving one thing. Then raise the bar and make another correction. If you start by achieving a 60% improvement, increase it to 65%, then 70%.

Another approach is to incentivize your drivers. Provide them with rewards for improvements in their driving behavior to incentivize continuous good driving. Some fleet tracking companies provide rewards programs to quickly implement the changes because it can be daunting to change your workplace. Some companies encounter pushback in doing so, but incentives help to reduce the impact of these changes. They may even encourage a better work environment.

There are many advantages to building your fleet safety management system with telematics. Safety and compliance are just a portion of the benefits you receive. Learn more about GPS fleet tracking and creating a fleet risk management plan at Azuga.