Martin Hiscox, chairman and CEO of Masternaut, discusses advances in fleet telematics and how they can enhance driver safety.
Who’s responsible for health and safety of the mobile workforce?
Of course, it’s a trick question.
No single person or department is solely accountable for ensuring that employees on the road are kept safe. We all should play our part – from fleet managers to HR, through to senior management and beyond – but it’s easier said than done.
Before working out who does what, a few questions need to be addressed first.
How do you identify which drivers are most at risk? How do you measure risk? How is it recorded? How can you change behavior on a long-term basis?
These are questions that typically lie under the responsibility of the fleet manager, but other decision makers in the business have a vested interest in ensuring that employees are driving safely.
While the HR department is working out how to ensure that the organization meets its duty of care obligations, for instance, the finance division is looking at the additional benefits of a safer mobile workforce, such as reduced insurance premiums.
The long road to driver safety
According to OECD data, between 25% and 33% of collisions involve company cars, vans and trucks, with drivers of light commercial vehicles having a 53% greater risk of crashing. The U.K. Department for Transport also states that there are more than 150 crashes every day involving vehicles on company business. And every week ten people are killed and 100 injured on U.K. roads in accidents involving those who are driving for work.
Anybody who is driving 25,000 miles or more per annum is now classified as high risk.
Businesses need to be educated further into how they can formally monitor safety policies, reduce bad behavior and prevent illegal activities on the road.
By law, employers must assess risk and take appropriate and preventative steps to control it. But are we, as an industry, doing enough to promote the fact that all (or at least the vast majority) of these issues can now be tackled with an enterprise-grade telematics system?
The idea that telematics can help with duty of care isn’t particularly new, but the technology is now sufficiently advanced to make a dramatic difference in work-related road safety.
Telematics old vs. new
Old-style telematics systems were quite good at tracking vehicle location and useful for stolen vehicle recovery. But they were not accurate enough to be relied on for making decisions about driving habits, nor were they efficient enough for storing data in a way that was easily accessed and interrogated.
That’s all changed with the latest next-generation systems. Telematics now provides 360-degree visibility of driver behavior, revolutionizing the way companies manage work-related road safety.
Through enterprise-grade telematics, businesses can monitor vehicle location, speed, distances driven without a break, cumulative speed, driving style, road type, time of day, road condition and weather conditions – all in real time.
This presents an opportunity for predictive analytics to identify poor driving and address it, through measures such as driver training. On the safety front, telematics can also enable rapid response to road incidents, with automatic alerts allowing first-notification-of-loss reporting for rapid action.
Beyond fuel savings
One example of how this works in practice is a customer of ours, which provides global security services and has thousands of mobile workers.
The business implemented a new platform to deliver a clearer, more efficient way to monitor driver performance in order to reduce fuel costs and road traffic collisions. Since implementing the solution, the business has seen a 20% cut in the rate of road accidents within the last year, with a further 20% reduction targeted for the coming year.
There’s also the additional business benefit of a projected a £900,000 saving in fuel costs over the coming year by further reducing idling.
In a highly competitive marketplace, our industry is at the leading-edge of what is feasible, and the industry is achieving much without regulative enablement.
As our technology improves year on year and the driver behavior evidence grows, there are impacts far beyond monetary gain. This technology ultimately prevents injury and saves lives.
Martin Hiscox is chairman and CEO of Masternaut.
For all the latest telematics trends, check out Insurance Telematics Europe 2014  on May 6-7 in London, Data Business for Connected Vehicles Japan 2014  on May 14-15 in Tokyo, Telematics India and South Asia 2014  on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014  on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Update Awards 2014  on June 3 in Novi, Michigan, Telematics Detroit 2014  on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014  on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, Insurance Telematics USA 2014  on Sept. 3-4 in Chicago, Telematics Japan 2014  in October in Tokyo and Telematics Munich 2014  on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Insurance Telematics Report 2014 , Connected Fleet Report 2014 , The Automotive HMI Report 2013  and Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013 .