How vehicle tracking can drive better behaviour

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 16:29
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John Wisdom (2)

EXPERT: John Wisdom, MD of Ctrack Europe

In our latest Expert Blog, John Wisdom, Managing Director of Ctrack Europe, explains the benefits of vehicle tracking…

The benefits of vehicle tracking have been widely publicised in recent years, with fleet operators adopting systems to gain added visibility and control in order to improve performance and reduce overheads.

However, advances in the technology mean that businesses can now gain more insight than ever providing an opportunity to influence and manage exactly how a vehicle is being driven.

Improving the way your employees drive can have a considerable impact on your organisation in terms of operational efficiency, environmental responsibility and heightened duty of care.

Moreover, positive driving behaviour can also help achieve better public perception of a business and prevent costly damage to its corporate image.

Achieving efficient and responsible driving will deliver multiple benefits from reduced emissions of CO2 as a result of improved fuel consumption through to lower insurance premiums by minimising accident risks.

In particular, companies can expect to achieve an improvement in mileage of between 15-20%, meaning that there is considerable opportunity to reduce fuel usage, which represents the most significant part of day-to-day operating costs.

Some of latest tracking units now possess three-axis accelerometer, so fleet operators can not only monitor speeding and idling, but also harsh operational events such as acceleration, deceleration, cornering and impacts.

This information provides the ammunition needed to establish a need for changing driver behaviour as well as the ability to measure improvements of any initiative.

This historical data can then be utilised through a benchmarking and reporting tool, which is a great way to monitor driving styles as well as show employees how they are performing against colleagues.

Comparing driver performance by individual and groups of employees enables a company to effectively identify the best and worst performing parts of the business along with areas of improvement.

Furthermore, league tables can be used as part of a wider incentive scheme that rewards the best performing drivers, and over time this can start to ingrain efficient driving techniques across the fleet operation.

From experience, an approach that favours a bit more carrot than stick will have a greater impact and create a positive environment for change rather than a blame culture that targets failure.

Incentives and league tables will also appeal to employee’s competitive nature and create some friendly rivalry, encouraging them to push for the greatest levels of improvements.

This can also underpin a driver-specific programme with regards to training by identifying the employees that could benefit from some form of added support and the exact nature of the guidance required.

This helps to maximise often limited training budgets by focusing on those drivers deemed to be the highest risk with tailored courses that are appropriate to each individual.

We are also seeing vehicle tracking increasingly combined with fleet compliance solutions that use a wide range of data sources including automated licence checks, online risk assessments, maintenance audits and claims data to identify risk and recommend the necessary course of action.

Up till recently, fleet operators have only been able to act retrospectively using this information, but by integrating this with live tracking it is now possible to extract real-time driver performance data to enable companies to undertake immediate and meaningful action.

Although most drivers are responsible and often open to change if it contributes a cleaner environment and being safer on the roads, this commitment can quickly slip during the day as other priorities takeover.

With this in mind, companies can install in-vehicle devices that alert drivers to any infringements whilst on the road, acting as a constant reminder.

This type of Driver Behaviour Indicator warns of any driving exceptions – including harsh acceleration, braking, cornering and manoeuvring over speed humps, as well as speed violations and excessive engine idling – by displaying a series of traffic-light coloured lights to encourage improved behaviour behind the wheel.

The green, amber and red lights display a cumulative number of warnings, whilst a sustained period of responsible driving will enable a driver to clear the lights.

Vehicle tracking technology has traditionally provided the “what, where and when”, but the technology now exists to also provide the “how” which offers an opportunity to work closely with employees to maximise the benefits of efficient and responsible driver behavior.

This will ultimately contribute positively to the performance, safety and cost of a fleet operation.