By Nick List, Customer Success Director, Europe at eDriving
Telematics solutions are fast becoming commonplace among fleets. No longer valued only for their “track and trace” capabilities, telematics solutions are now able to provide a vast array of behavioural insights to help fleet managers improve driver safety and wellbeing.
Fleet managers have the ability to see real-time driver safety performance and promptly identify trends, both positive and negative. However, for behaviour-based telematics to measurably impact on work-related road risk, it’s important for an organisation to already have a solid safety culture in place.
A commitment to safety
Organisations that introduce telematics as their “driver safety solution” without first having a solid safety culture are less likely to experience a long-term reduction in collisions and incidents. By a solid safety culture, I mean having in place policies, procedures, risk assessments, training, and most importantly, effective two-way communication between the driver and their immediate manager; all in the wider context of an organisation-wide commitment to safety, including senior leadership.
Without policies that detail what is reasonably expected of drivers in terms of their behaviour – in relation to speeding, distraction, braking, cornering, for example – how do drivers know that they need to improve? And, even with telematics data, how do drivers know what behaviours they are aiming for?
Don’t underestimate the role that line managers play in your safety culture or the influence they have on your organisation’s safety operational balance (i.e. maintaining the same level of importance for safety as for operations). As well as providing ongoing training to drivers, it’s equally important to train managers so that they too fully understand the influence they have in helping keep drivers safe as well as recognising how best to engage with drivers.
Interpreting telematics data
The output from telematics can be overwhelming. That’s another reason why a solid safety culture is so important. If you know what your organisation is aiming toward, you can use telematics data to guide drivers towards your safety goals. Most telematics providers will issue manager reports that give insights into driving behaviours such as speed versus posted speed limit, braking, acceleration and cornering. At eDriving, our smartphone telematics programme, Mentor by eDrivingSM, also provides feedback on phone manipulation, whether that be a phone call (handheld or hands-free), text, accessing social media or even just moving the phone to view a notification.
It’s important that the data supplied by your telematics provider is useful and relevant to your organisation, and that you are supported in acting on this data. eDriving’s Mentor programme does this automatically, prescribing micro training modules within the smartphone app, tailored to the driving behaviours that have been identified; including distraction, speeding, scanning, braking etc. In addition, Mentor’s manager dashboard can automatically identify the 10% of drivers most at-risk in any given month and assign Manager-Driver OnetoOnes®to discuss and develop action plans for improvement.
Effective regular communication
Communication with drivers is fundamental… Consider this: a driver has telematics installed and regularly triggers warnings about their driving behaviour, If their manager does nothing about these warnings it won’t take long for a driver to realise that they can simply ignore them. Without analysis and discussion, risky driving behaviour will never be changed.
Again, that brings us back to the importance of a solid safety culture. Drivers need to be aware of the interventions that will occur should they fail to meet the organisation’s safe driving requirements. And don’t forget to address how good driving behaviours will be rewarded as that’s equally important.
Formal communication (as in the case of Manager-Driver OnetoOnes) will ideally be supported by regular informal communication, whether that be in the form of face-to-face chats, driver emails, newsletters, team discussions or posters. Feedback, feedback and more feedback goes a long way to maintaining a strong safety culture over time.
Transparency for drivers
One of the biggest concerns drivers have about telematics is their privacy. But, a solid safety culture addresses privacy concerns at the outset. And, the subsequent introduction of telematics will only serve to reinforce your mission of ensuring drivers make it home safely every day, rather than triggering concerns. If your whole organisation is aware of your commitment to safety, drivers are more likely to view telematics in a positive light. Enabling them to see how they’re performing and areas in which they can improve will further boost their engagement.
eDriving’s Mentor programme has full transparency for drivers and acts like a fitness coach in that it prescribes drivers with their own personal validated driving score that is recalculated after every trip and accompanied by feedback related to specific driving behaviours including acceleration, braking, cornering, distraction and speeding. Drivers can immediately see areas in which they could do better and can even join colleagues in competing for the best scores using the gamification feature, “Circles”.
To summarise, if you’re considering a new telematics programme, or assessing the effectiveness of an existing one, first look to your safety culture. Could it be strengthened? If so, it’s worth investing your time in creating a solid foundation before focusing your efforts on telematics solutions. Yes, behaviour-based telematics can be a valuable tool for reducing collision and claim rates, but only when deployed into a company culture that truly puts safety first.
Nick List is eDriving’s Customer Success Director for Europe.
eDriving helps organisations to reduce collisions, injuries, licence endorsements and total cost of ownership through a patented closed-loop driver behaviour-based safety programme that reduces collisions by up to 67%. The risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest and safest fleets, eDriving has served over one million drivers in 45 languages and 96 countries over its 23 years in the industry and has been recognised through 70+ client and partner awards.
eDriving will be exhibiting at Safety & Health Expo in London from 18-20 June and presenting a panel discussion on Using a Closed-Loop Approach to Measure, Manage & Reduce Driver Risk at 2:00-2:30 p.m. on 19 June in the Operational Excellence Theatre. More information.