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Reducing fleet risks with telemetric systems

At a glance

  • Driver behaviour telemetry systems can reduce claim rates in corporate fleets
  • Data gathered allows managers to see how safely fleet drivers operate company vehicles
  • Focusing on identified driver behaviours can lead to double-digit reductions in collisions and costs

The use of driver behaviour telemetry systems in fleets is in its infancy, but companies that have embraced the technology, and are using the data proactively, have seen significant reductions in their collision and claim rates. So why are more fleets not adopting this technology?

First of all, though, what exactly is driver behaviour telemetry?

“There are many different systems available, but they all measure things such as harsh braking, cornering and acceleration, and speeding against the posted limit,” explains Andy Price
Practice Leader – Europe, Motor Fleet at Zurich Risk Engineering. “Telemetry systems will also deliver other potential benefits to a customer, from simple track and trace through to a comprehensive mobile resource management capability.”

Fitting the technology is not enough, on its own, to change behaviours on a sustainable basis. There is a big difference between a private motorist and someone driving a company vehicle – a private motorist knows that when they purchase insurance based on some form of telemetry system, they have a financial incentive to modify their driving behaviours. A fleet driver does not have these same incentives, and it is their manager who has a much bigger influence over how they drive.

As such, the key to using driver behaviour telemetry data to reduce risks, in a fleet, is for managers to be regularly engaging with their drivers to discuss the trends in the exception data and understanding the underlying root causes of these exceptions.

Putting the brakes on unsafe driving

“Understanding the root causes is critical if the appropriate interventions are to be put in place,” says Andy. “For example, harsh braking events are one of the most common driver behaviours reported. However, a manager does not know why the driver has to brake harshly – they could be driving too close, too fast, be distracted, fatigued or even impaired.”

On top of this, the underlying reason why the driver could be exhibiting these traits may be related to the organisation’s own operational procedures and/or management pressures. For example, a driver may be driving too fast and too close to other vehicles, as they have to meet an unrealistic delivery schedule, or they are under pressure to hit their sales targets at the end of a quarter.

The combination of initiatives has seen a 74% reduction in incidents with a corresponding 63% reduction in own damage and third party costs

Andy Price, Practice Leader – Europe, Motor Fleet at Zurich Risk Engineering

“Once a manager understands the underlying root causes, they can then put the appropriate interventions in place,” says Andy. “These may well be changes to the operational practices and procedures, rather than an intervention, such as training, focused on the driver.”

Reduced costs for customers

So, what are the financial advantages for corporate customers with vehicle fleets? One of Zurich’s UK customers implemented driver behaviour telemetry as part of their comprehensive work-related road risk management programme.

“The combination of initiatives over the last five years, has seen a 74% reduction in incidents with a corresponding 63% reduction in own damage and third party costs,” Andy explains. “This is in addition to the operational benefits that the telemetry system has delivered.”

While some believe driver behaviour telemetry is the ‘silver bullet’ that will lead to reduced collisions and claims, it is clear that this is not the case. However, when used as part of a wider work-related road risk management strategy, with line managers using the data proactively and talking to their drivers, then large, sustainable improvements are achievable.

Image © Getty

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