Can telematics improve driver behaviour?
Big data and analytics – previously the domain of IT and statisticians – is now impacting on far ranging areas of all types of business. None more so than in fleet management, where vast amounts of data are generated daily. From road conditions, traffic patterns and vehicle health statuses to telematics information such as speeding braking and fuel consumption.
Vehicles are becoming mobile data centres and in the car market alone Gartner Inc* believes that by 2020 there will be a quarter billion ‘connected’ vehicles on the roads. The company also forecasts that around 1 in 5 vehicles on the road worldwide will have some form of wireless connection by 2020. This will have implications across the major areas of telematics, automated driving and mobility services.
So while gathering data is not necessarily a new concept, the volume and speed of change of what’s available today is revolutionary. Especially when it is capable of delivering insights and value to so many.
Since the introduction of telematics around 15 years ago, adoption has been slow among smaller businesses. However the use for commercial vehicles is expected to almost double in Europe by 2018 and more than double in the Americas. The general consensus is that eventually the technology will become integral to all vehicle fleets as the costs fall for vehicle manufacturers who will be able to achieve economies of scale.
Securing buy in
Telematics is clearly an area which is only going to become a much bigger part of fleet management for the future, but what does it mean for fleet managers? Are they facing resistance from drivers who have concerns that they are being ‘spied on’ by fleet managers?
A global survey carried out by LeasePlan in 2015, revealed the use of in-vehicle telematics could significantly improve driver behaviour**. 3377 lease drivers in 20 countries worldwide were surveyed and it showed that 50% of drivers globally would appreciate driving with a telematics device in their corporate car and 35% would change their driving behaviour. So this is good news for those worried about the ‘big brother’ aspect, the resistance is clearly diminishing as the technologies become the norm.
Introducing the concept of telematics to a fleet of vehicles however is a process which needs to engage drivers, in order to head off resistance and so that they able to see the benefits to them. Drivers need to understand what is happening in advance, to allay any privacy fears and prevent the feeling of being judged. They cannot have telematics equipment foisted upon them and be expected to be happy about it. Fleet managers need to help their drivers understand that it is a tool to help them be safer and more efficient and the business to make across-the-board cost savings.
Despite drivers showing a willingness to adopt telematics, it’s vital that the results gathered are used to identify behaviours and areas for improvement to ensure ongoing success.
Measure and monitor
Many businesses and fleet managers are probably already gathering data, but do they really know what they are supposed to do with it?
The possibilities presented by emerging ‘big data’ can be overwhelming and companies can risk collecting too much data, with little or no strategic purpose. Newer technologies mean that more and more data can be accessed, but this flood of information can confuse fleet managers, rather than provide insight. Companies need to ensure that the data they gather will help to meet strategic aims, otherwise what is the point? Fleet managers should be able to feel empowered and make swift, business changing decisions.
Responsibility for this should not just sit with fleet managers however. In most instances they are not solely responsible for managing driver safety within a business. Other teams such as HR and health and safety will be able to utilise gathered data to develop effective awareness, development and training programmes for employees.
Fleet management and telematics can provide an incredible amount of intelligence and the skill is to know what the right data is for a business, how to extract it and make the best use of it.
Telematics data is proven to drive reductions in speeding, crashes, insurance premiums and maintenance costs. Fuel economy increases, carbon footprints are improved. It supports duty of care policies and ultimately provides an improved service. There are endless case studies available from businesses who have made swift, tangible improvements following the installation of telematics devices.
However in order to achieve any successes, measurement parameters need to be set. The data gathered needs to be translated into knowledge and be relevant to the problems the business is trying to solve. Well-defined goals need to be established and milestones set to measure the progress towards these goals.
Target specific behaviours
Once the areas for measurement have been established, the data gathered can begin to be used to change behaviours and to identify areas for improvement, to make intelligent decisions about driver training. Of course, in this process companies will have to adhere to data privacy rules and regulations.
Early flags can be raised for problem individuals and allow for early intervention to correct issues, before they become too great. Drivers can be alerted if not in real time, at least extremely quickly; enabling swift actions to be taken to make changes to driving styles.
By better understanding the impact of driving style on fuel economy, speed, vehicle wear and tear, safety, environmental impact and many more factors, fleet managers can instigate more effective driver training programmes that have a direct impact on bottom line.
The potential for telematics in terms of a fleet of vehicles is enormous and the kinds of information available can ensure valuable business assets are maintained and reputation protected. The real challenge however is to go beyond the standard, and to begin to utilise the analytics tools that are available, to leverage big data and identify trends to improve business operations.
Without an effective, ongoing programme of development to sit alongside the ability to gather information, telematics devices alone are not a simple solution to correcting driver behaviours.
* Gartner - Predicts 2015: The Internet of Things
** 2015 LeasePlan Mobility Monitor survey