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5 Minutes With… SmartDrive’s Penny Brooks

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In the latest instalment of our fleet industry executive interview series, we spoke to Penny Brooks, Managing Director for EMEA at SmartDrive Systems, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, the opportunities created by video safety technologies, the move towards remote fleet management and the importance of big data…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

SmartDrive Systems, (now part of Omnitracs), helps fleets reduce bad costs, by reducing fleet risk and collisions, whilst protecting and exonerating drivers when not-at-fault.  Our video-based, managed service safety programme performs the ‘heavy lifting’ for fleets, enabling them to implement a proactive, programmatic approach to reducing on-road risk.  

This is achieved primarily through identifying risky driving behaviour, such as distracted driving, speeding, close following, and many more, providing the fleet with the mechanism to work in a supportive and objective manner to coach drivers to safer performance. 

Many of our existing customers also integrate the programme into their driver incentive schemes, identifying and rewarding drivers for safe driving practices and improvements. 

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The last 12 months have been an extraordinary time! COVID has presented a massive challenge to the industry, both in terms of suppliers to the industry continuing to service and support existing clients, and in terms of new business growth.    

Ourselves, and many other fleet services companies like us, have had to find new ways to conduct our business and support our customers, which will likely have an ongoing impact for some time to come.  

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The increasing digitalisation of fleet management operations to optimise efficiencies and reduce costs during this time, has led to a number of very interesting emerging opportunities in our space of video-safety. 

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2021/2022?

Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing an increasing focus on remote fleet management solutions and services. COVID and other macroeconomic factors have meant that operational efficiency and minimising fleet risk are key to enable many fleets to remain competitive and protect their employees. 

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021/2022?

In line with above, developments in remote fleet services data capture and data analytics is a significant trend, through converged fleet management systems, particularly in areas such as telematics, in-cab video, and AI.  

We’re seeing a lot of movement from on-premise to SaaS solutions, which although not new, is accelerating more rapidly than ever before, in line with improved connectivity and the Internet of Things, (IoT). 

With all of this we will see a trend for deeper data security, with many fleet managers shifting focus to strategic management and upskilling in IT to adopt newer roles. 

Additionally, the increasing push toward electric and autonomous vehicles will be a key trend, with many companies rolling out electric vehicles from cars to commercials. With autonomous vehicles, one of the key trends will be finding ways of how to manage automated vehicles fleets with regard to on-road risk, as safety is a key concern.    

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Remote fleet management systems that provide real-time visibility across operations. 

In 2023 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully not another COVID lockdown! Rather where we are going, or have been, on our foreign holidays!  

On a more serious note, we’ll be talking more about ‘big data’, analytics and associated security than we are today. Fleet operators and other members of the fleet services sector will have greater insights into how to make use of this upsurge in data to understand every aspect of a fleet’s behaviour, to gain efficiencies, improve safety and protect the environment.  

Which person in, or associated with, the Fleet Services industry would you most like to meet?

HRH The Princess Royal, as Patron of Transaid, the international development organisation that works to transform lives through safe, available, and sustainable transport. I have great admiration for her and the hard work and focus she puts into furthering Transaid’s aims. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

It’s continually changing and many faceted dimensions. I spent 15-years at a major truck and van OEM before joining SmartDrive and believed I had a thorough understanding of the sector. However, I soon realised that wasn’t the case and I continue to gain new insights daily that inform my experience and understanding of this exciting and dynamic industry.

You go to the bar at the Fleet Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A perfectly chilled glass of white burgundy. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Witnessing the difference that our technology makes to our customers operations and knowing that I’m part of an organisation that is helping to save lives and reduce casualties on our roads.  

And what’s the most challenging?

Balancing daily operational tasks against the wider priorities of leading business growth. Like many people, there’s not enough hours in the day.  Keeping a focus on my ‘ruthless priorities’ is key.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders at a push. Watched the first series, it was great. Watched the second series, not so great.  Started watching the third series…gave up after first episode. Even Cillian Murphy wasn’t enough to keep me watching!  

To find out more about SmartDrive’s managed video safety programme, email, visit their website, or give them a call on 01442 345180. 

Yodel enhances fleet safety with SmartDrive

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Yodel, the UK independent parcel carrier, has enhanced its fleet safety programme and reduced collision rates over its HGV fleet, using SmartDrive Systems’ managed service video-based safety programme.

The company operates a proactive, ongoing safety improvement programme – implementing the latest technology across all aspects of its fleet to ensure continuous improvement.

The investment in SmartDrive’s video-safety programme has seen Yodel exceed its annual fleet safety target regarding collision reduction, in just six months, as well as exonerating its drivers when not-at-fault and providing protection from fraudulent claims.

Yodel Head of Fleet and Transport, Andy Yemm says: “With SmartDrive we benefit from objective risk scoring of on-road instances and follow up with driver coaching. It was great news to hear that, on the strength of data from the SmartDrive programme, our insurer accepted that our new proactive approach to road safety was capable of significantly reducing our collision risk.”

Yodel decided to adopt a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to on-road fleet risk in 2019 and spent considerable time examining offerings from various camera suppliers. After an intensive head-to-head trial period, it chose SmartDrive.

While other systems would have required the Yodel driver-trainer team to assess thousands of pieces of footage, SmartDrive’s managed service approach means that all footage is reviewed and risk scored in a consistent and objective manner by SmartDrive’s trained safety professionals. It is then made available to Yodel with coaching insights, via an easy-to-use online portal, which was a key benefit for the company.

Yemm says without SmartDrive it would have taken huge internal resources to manage this amount of data effectively and, in practical terms, would have been impossible to implement and objectively use as part of a proactive driver safety improvement programme.

He says his team now has clear guidance as to which incidents to follow up with specified levels of intervention, from debriefing to coaching.

Yemm says the risk scored camera footage is more effective than a driver-trainer assessing from the cab because it generates more reliable real-world observations. The footage is risk scored against a comprehensive list of observations by SmartDrive’s risk analysts.

He says having cameras on the vehicles had an immediate effect on driver behaviour, but the value of the system is the guided coaching.

To find out more email, visit our website, or give us a call on 01442 345180.

Coach your drivers to safety and success with a managed service video-based safety programme

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Hundreds of thousands of drivers are coached every day, (by thousands of driver trainers/coaches), using the SmartDrive® video-based safety programme. As experts on the impact of reducing risk through coaching and the resulting improvement of a fleet’s safety metrics, SmartDrive provides insights on how to put the power of coaching to use in commercial fleets, helping businesses to save lives, save jobs and save money.

The SmartDrive video-based safety programme 

SmartDrive’s experience with thousands of fleets globally, and its analysis of more than 250 million video events from commercial fleets, gives it specific insights into:

  • The shifting attitudes of drivers to safety initiatives before and after the implementation of video-based safety systems
  • The matrix of contextual data which gives fleets a genuine and detailed analysis of risk
  • The safety, financial, cultural and staff development benefits of safety interventions.

The SmartDrive programme is centred on triggered video events, which are caused by specific vehicle actions, such as harsh braking, sudden course corrections, high impact shocks, etc. Triggered video is 20-seconds in length, typically 10 seconds either side of the event.  This is uploaded automatically via the cellular network, along with GPS positioning and base telematics data, to SmartDrive’s own review centre, where it is reviewed by its highly trained safety team.  There is also an extended recording option to put greater context around an event. 

The footage is analysed against dozens of pre-determined ‘observations’ or driver behaviours and assigned a risk-score, personalised to the individual fleets’ corporate policies. This is then fed back to the customer via a dedicated, secure on-line portal, for use in driver coaching, as well as providing an extensive suite of KPI reporting, that can be drilled up or down, from company, to depot or division, to driver.  

Critical events, such as high-impact collisions can be set to trigger an immediate alert to relevant parties. Drivers can also manually trigger footage capture if necessary.

The riskiest video events, in line with the fleets’ own operating policies, are added automatically to the coaching workflow in the on-line portal.  This provides a focussed coaching workflow to guide the trainer in objective discussions with the driver. All this without the need to review hundreds of videos first – SmartDrive does all the ‘heavy lifting’ for you. 

To find out more download our free eBook, ‘The Importance of a Managed Service to an Effective Coaching Programme’ from the resource centre on our website. 

Reducing collisions and increasing driver safety

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A video-based safety programme cuts incidents and helps with fast and efficient management when they happen.

Commercial fleets and drivers have a tough job on the road and around the vehicle. Balancing legislative compliance, safety requirements and collision avoidance is not only challenging, it can also drain financial resources and increase operating costs. 

SmartDrive enables fleets to reduce the frequency, severity and financial impact of collisions. With the combination of video, driving intelligence, vehicle data and personalised performance profiles, SmartDrive’s video-based driver risk management programme gives fleets a comprehensive view of risky driving. It provides the right tools to reduce preventable collisions and exonerate not-at-fault drivers – all through an easy-to-use, fully-managed service. 

When collisions do occur, SmartDrive gives management, safety personnel and drivers a true understanding of what really happened. This helps determine causality, reduces liability and minimises fraudulent claims. The captured and analysed video also guides constructive feedback to drivers to help them operate their vehicles as safety and efficiently as possible.

Prevention is real and proven

Research shows that, on average, for every 300 unsafe driving acts, a fleet will experience 29 minor collisions and one major one. The key to eliminating collisions is in tackling the unsafe behaviours. Video-based safety provides a cost-effective, approach to identify and coach risky driving behaviour out of your fleet. In addition to reducing collision frequency, it helps fleets reduce ‘bad costs’ in terms of decreased liability and vehicle damage. It also helps improve claims accuracy and speeds resolution. Implemented properly, driver safety and security are quickly improved and drivers feel more secure in the knowledge that the system will help exonerate them when they’re not at fault. Furthermore, by focussing on developing safer and more anticipative driving across the fleet, operators can see savings in both maintenance and fuel expenses. SmartDrive provides expert analysis, with a prioritised coaching queue, that is specific to a fleet’s compliance and operating practices. It is accessible via a secure and dedicated online portal, so fleet managers and driver trainers/coaches can access a full suite of management and KPI reports to enable them to work proactively with their drivers.

To find out more email, visit the Resource Centre on our website or give us a call on 01442 345180.