By Nick List, Customer Success Director, Europe, eDriving
Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 all UK companies have a legal obligation to ensure their employees do not suffer any unreasonable or foreseeable harm or loss in the workplace and, as such, fleet operators have a duty to not only ensure that company-owned vehicles are safe to drive but that any work-related risks for drivers are minimised.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) states that: “Health and safety law applies to work activities on the road in the same way as it does to all other work activities and you should manage the risks to drivers as part of your health and safety arrangements”.
In its Driving at work: Managing work-related road safety document, the HSE defines that health and safety law applies to any employer with employees who drive, ride a motorcycle or bicycle at work, as well as self-employed people. It also applies to those using their own vehicle for a work-related journey.
For an increasing number of fleet operators, telematics is becoming part of their risk management strategy and here Nick List, eDriving’s Customer Success Director, Europe, highlights some of the benefits of smartphone-based telematics in helping to manage driver risks and explains how this technology can help fleet operators fulfil their duty of care obligations, including among the grey fleet…
In terms of managing driver risk, what’s expected of the fleet operator?
The HSE outlines three main requirements of managing road safety effectively: safe driver, safe vehicle and safe journey. Safe driver starts with ensuring drivers are competent and capable of doing their work in a way that is safe and also incorporates other requirements such as checking the validity of driving licences on recruitment and periodically, ensuring drivers are adequately trained, providing refresher training if needed, and ensuring drivers are aware of various risk factors, including fatigue.
Safe vehicle means vehicles are fit for purpose, maintained in a safe and fit condition and also includes ergonomic considerations such as seating position and driving posture. Remember, this will extend to all vehicles being used for company business, not just those within the organisation’s fleet.
Safe journey includes planning routes thoroughly, setting realistic work schedules with regular breaks, allowing drivers enough time to complete journeys safely and considering weather conditions when planning journeys.
How can smartphone-based telematics be incorporated into driver risk management?
A comprehensive driver risk management programme will be based around a solid safety culture that puts safety before anything else. This safety culture will have the support of senior leadership and will be reinforced at every opportunity.
Smartphone-based telematics can enhance a safety culture by providing visibility to managers and drivers about actual on-road performance, enabling risk intervention to be targeted accordingly. Smartphone-based telematics programmes can help to reinforce an organisation’s safety messaging through gamification features that engage and encourage drivers, keep informal safety conversations going and, crucially, provide the actual training that drivers require based upon their own individual driving style.
What are the advantages of smartphone-based telematics over traditional in-vehicle telematics?
Telematics can identify harsh manoeuvres such as harsh acceleration, braking and cornering; as well as speeding by posted speed limit. And while traditional, in-vehicle “black box” style telematics cannot measure driver distraction, smartphone-based telematics can. This can include any type of phone use including calls, texts, internet use and even moving the phone to view a notification. For organisations that have a “no phone usage” policy, smartphone telematics can therefore be used as an effective audit tool.
Because smartphone-based telematics uses smartphone technology, there is no end to the features available. eDriving’s programme, Mentor by eDrivingSM, not only measures driver risk and helps to remedy it via in-app training but it also incorporates additional features to help fleet operators manage their duty of care including First Notice of Loss (FNOL), which allows drivers to report an “event” (Collision, Incident, Crash or Licence Endorsement) from within the app. It also offers vehicle inspection reports, guiding drivers through their daily walk-around vehicle checks, with key fault alerts being automatically notified to the leasing company.
How can driver strengths/ weaknesses be identified?
Smartphone-based telematics can help both drivers and managers see how a driver performs on each and every “at-work” journey. Going a little further, driver scoring provides an at-a-glance measure of how a driver’s performance changes over time; helping both drivers and managers to measure improvement and promptly identify areas for intervention.
How can smartphone-based telematics help fleet operators to manage driver risk in the grey fleet?
A unique feature of smartphone-based telematics is that it requires no installation and moves with the driver and their mobile phone. It therefore works in exactly the same way whether the driver is in a company-owned vehicle or a personal vehicle, facilitating a standard measure of driver risk across an organisation’s whole fleet, regardless of vehicle type, ownership or location.
What action can managers take based on telematics insights/ driver scores?
One of the mistakes commonly made by fleet operators is to provide driver training when someone begins employment and then pretty much leave the driver to it after that. Some organisations may go a little further and provide refresher training, but this is often only on an annual basis and not always risk-based for the driver. Without the need to encroach on a driver’s privacy in terms of where they are driving, smartphone-based telematics and driver scoring can give managers an almost real-time insight into a driver’s level of risk and helps managers see which drivers require additional training, and of what nature.
Driver training can then be tailored specifically to address a driver’s specific development needs, and this can be delivered in numerous ways. One method we use at eDriving – via our Mentor programme – is to deliver interactive micro-training modules directly to the smartphone app, based on the behaviours identified. So, for example, if a driver’s braking is identified as an issue, the driver will receive a short in-app video training module to encourage smoother braking.
Managers have complete visibility of training assignments and completions; and drivers that continue to under-perform are identified to the manager for further support and intervention, which might include in-car training or professional coaching.