Is real-time verbal coaching the key to an improved fleet?

Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 12:19
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In their ear

In her debut article for FleetPoint, Rachel Garris asks if driver behaviour can be improved with real-time verbal coaching instead of just recording and reporting using traditional telematics

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, a person who drives as a part of their job is three times more likely to be killed on the job than a person working in a manufacturing environment. Unfortunately, most of these accidents are caused by human error, such as driving recklessly and speeding.

Human error does not only cost lives. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the way a vehicle is driven can affect its fuel efficiency by 33 per cent. Simple changes in driver behavior could lead to substantial savings in maintenance and fuel cost as well.

Changing bad driver behavior is critical – not only for safety and liability reasons but also to optimize fleet equipment and efficiency costs.

A telematics solution that effectively utilizes real-time verbal coaching will allow commercial fleets and fleet managers to make dramatic strides towards improving driver behavior.

Do Written Safety Policies Help?

It’s a good starting point, but companies also need the means to enforce their policies. Strictly paper logs tend to be out of date and inefficient.

What about Training?

Training programs produce no statistical change or improvement in fleet accidents. This is regardless of training style, length, and location. Without continual reporting and feedback, an individual’s engrained habits will be difficult to break.

What about Driving Records?

Driving records only show a glimpse of the past; one speeding violation does not tell you if the driver is a habitual speeder.

Telematics-related information, which helps fleet managers understand what is really happening when the rubber meets the road, it a big step in the right direction. Telematics can also reduce fuel consumption, while cutting maintenance costs.

How do systems that use real-time verbal coaching compare to systems that don’t?

RTVC is proactive, not reactive. It can actually prevent accidents and enforce compliance, instead of merely recording and reporting events that have already occurred. While many fleets continues to approach safety with policies, training, and reactive measures, a proactive solution like RTVC helps form safer driving habits.

RTVC in a telematics solution can help prevent crashes and violations because it gives drivers timely, constructive feedback that is tied directly to their specific driving behaviors. It is designed to shape safer drivers – not punish them after the fact.

If you are looking to update or acquire a solution for your fleet, several telematics offerings are now emerging that offer various levels of RTVC. With this in mind it is important to ask the following key questions:

  • Is the solution rugged enough to work in my environment?
  • Does it provide real-time feedback to drivers in a meaningful way?
  • Does it provide both visual and audible feedback to drivers?
  • Does it provide real-time feedback to management?
  • Can I customize the alerts to fit my operating model?
  • Is it build on a telematics platform that can expand with my needs
  • Can it integrate with our other systems?
  • Can it monitor engine idle time?

As you explore what solution works best for your fleet, remember that your drivers are the most important part of your business. They deserve proactive coaching that helps you effectively manage your fleet, and helps them return home safely.

For more information about proactive solutions for your fleet, please download the full white paper HERE.

Rachel Garris is Marketing Coordinator for inthinc, a Telematics service provider. She also moderates Fleet Safety and Efficiency.