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Transportation Telematics: High-Tech Fleet Safety

Fleet safety programs have been around since, well, the beginning of automotive fleets. There have been a lot of changes since the beginning, but things are now speeding up much faster than they were before. New technology has changed the face of fleet safety in much the same way that it has changed nearly every other industry. Now, there is an entire industry lifecycle which is primarily devoted to the behavior of drivers and the improvement of safety.


Even just a decade ago, the entirety of telematics consisted of a device being placed in a vehicle which tracked the behavior of the driver of that vehicle. Data would be collected and their driving habits could then be reviewed by fleet managers with an eye for how it could be improved. Often, action would be taken to address problem areas, but the analytics were not in line with the improvements being made in technology.


Modern telematics is rapidly becoming essential to fleet safety programs. Tracking multiple data points over a variety of situations and through multiple devices allows in-depth improvement programs to be put in place. For example, data can get so detailed that it can point to which segments of a given road a driver is having trouble with. At that point, companies can decide what programs to utilize for improvement of driver activity.

These systems are also taking in information from other sources and fusing them with the driver data for an ever-increasing level of specificity. Often, information can be pulled from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and state and federal regulations into the same dashboard that the driver data is being pulled into. This means that driver infractions that may not show up in the telemetry from the vehicle itself may be pulled in from other databases to give a more complete view of what is going on.


Additionally, factors can be revealed that are somehow impacting safety programs without managers being aware of them. One of these factors could even be where the driving is taking place. It may seem obvious but driving 100 miles in New York City and driving 100 miles in rural West Virginia are two experiences which could not be more different. Companies can utilize geographic data to help track new routes, road and traffic conditions, or even the times of day in an effort to find the optimal safe driving conditions for the fleet or for individual drivers.


Once data has been analyzed, more purposeful training programs can be put in place as a form of corrective action (if necessary). The middle portion of the safety improvement lifecycle is a combination of preventative training and training based primarily on predictive modeling. New hires would go through some courses to train on the specific vehicles that they would be operating and to learn the risks they may face on the job. Existing drivers in the fleet would receive training which is based on what telemetric data is telling the managers about what those drivers may need.


Since these types of programs have been implemented across the country, incident rates have seen dramatic improvement. In some cases, that improvement is up to 30 percent. Telematics is a preventative measure that not only improves statistics across the board but has also seen positive results when applied at the claims level. Immediate training post-accident based on the cause of the accident has shown a resulting drop in that behavior by 75 percent or more over the eighteen months following the accident, according to some companies.


Not only is this information being used by fleet managers to assist with improvement of their own safety programs but it is also being used by their insurance professionals as well. The data is often linked directly to risk management tools that will assist agents or brokers with alerting their insured clients about driver behaviors, should they become an issue at any point. The goal is not to punish drivers but, rather, to build a positive framework of training and improvement.


Nothing will change overnight, however. Incremental change is the name of the game. Even improving just 1 percent every month is better than stagnating and letting the same issues repeat themselves year over year. Telematics is a way for agents to help with risk management consultation with their clients and is proving to be a great way for managers to assist with their own fleet safety programs through real data. It is no longer a guessing game or trying different approaches to see what may stick and what won’t. Rather, it is now a way for managers to get a handle on metrics and use them to their own advantage.


From the implementation of devices like dashcams and brake measurement devices, speed measurement and the analysis of data right down to training and insurance, telematics is quickly encompassing the entirety of the driver experience from the perspective of safety. The next logical step is the implementation of autonomous vehicles, which expands the scope of telematics even further and is becoming closer to reality than science fiction every day.


For more information about transportation telematics and how they may be able to improve your fleet management programs, contact Wayne Nesbit at 952-746-4312 or wnesbit@nesbitagencies.com.



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