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August 9, 2016

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Fleet data key to tackling ‘hidden’ risk



Company vehicles are too often overlooked as a major source of business risk despite posing a very real threat to the safety of staff. Jeremy Gould, VP Sales Europe, explains how fleet data can help firms reduce risk and meet legal obligations.

It is estimated that a third of all road traffic accidents involve an at-work driver, while there are more than 5,000 incidents each year involving transport in the workplace.1

The statistics are not ambiguous when it comes to the extent of the impact driving has on workplace safety.

Yet, despite the evidence, a significant number of organisations still do not seem to have processes in place to identify, monitor and mitigate potential risks.

Research conducted by TomTom Telematics among fleet managers of UK businesses, found only 57 per cent operate regular risk assessments across their vehicle fleets and only 36 per cent monitor driver performance as a means of assessing and reducing risk.2

This situation may have resulted from the relative lack of regulation regarding cars and vans when compared to HGVs, but it may also be a hangover from the traditional perception of the company car as employee perk rather than mobile workplace.

Whatever the underlying reasons, there is an onus on employers to take control of the situation to ensure they are fulfilling their duty of care.

Perhaps the most crucial element for ensuring lasting change is visibility

Fleet risk in the organisational DNA

Basic measures such as conducting regular vehicle and licence checks, to ensure both vehicles and drivers are roadworthy, act as an appropriate starting point but may not be sufficient to ensure employee safety.

Instead, businesses should strive to achieve a cultural shift among staff to ensure road safety is ingrained in the organisational DNA and consistent improvements to the fleet risk profile can be achieved over time.


Consequently, it is important to establish a clear road safety policy from the outset, outlining what is expected of both the employer and the employee. This should be supported by regular communications with staff, such as email bulletins, safety seminars and internal marketing, to ensure key messages are kept front of mind.

But perhaps the most crucial element for ensuring lasting change is visibility. In the past, it has been difficult for management to get a handle on vehicle activity simply because it is detached from the office.

Advancements in fleet management technology have helped to turn this situation on its head by providing businesses with a wealth of data about the performance of their fleets. The number of hours that a driver spends behind the wheel has long been monitored and reported by telematics systems, helping managers to enforce policies of regular breaks, but the potential is now even greater.

Knowledge is power

 One of the biggest areas in which fleet data can have an impact is driver behaviour. Statistics show that more than 70 per cent of accidents in the UK are caused by driver error,3 so this should represent a key area of focus for any organisation seeking to tackle fleet risk.

The good news for businesses is that they can use the data provided by telematics as a foundation to help them create more accurate risk profiles for individual drivers, enabling them to identify the root causes of unsafe practice and track improvements over time.

Fleet management technology can tell an organisation how often its drivers are speeding and whether they are accelerating, cornering or braking too harshly, automatically creating a fleet risk profile.

This allows managers to identify areas that are a particular concern for their fleet and set benchmark performance standards based on current standards and the level of improvement they would like to achieve. They can then delve deeper into the data to identify which drivers are not meeting expected performance standards and take action.

This allows driver training to be more targeted – rather than providing general advice, it can address specific areas of concern – and even provides an opportunity to reward star performers. Many organisations use the data to create driver league tables, establishing an element of healthy competition and providing an incentive for employees to improve.

Collaborative improvement

This wealth of new data should not be used to punish drivers, rather to empower them to make positive change.

Advanced fleet management technology can even provide this via an in-vehicle driver terminal, which is essentially a business-orientated version of a satellite navigation device.

Drivers are provided with audible and visible notifications whenever they are guilty of unsafe driving practice, allowing them to take action to rectify this. The driver terminal also provides pre-trip advice and post-trip analysis, putting the driver in control of their own performance and providing them with the tools to improve.


However, there are also a number of other ways in which telematics can help drivers and managers to work closer together in order to help to improve safety.

For example, the vehicle safety check process can be digitised by allowing drivers to conduct daily checks via mobile apps on connected devices. This helps to reduce the administrative burden on drivers – checks are conducted via the app with details automatically updated in the back office system. Once this has been completed, the mobile worker will receive their daily schedule on their device, including navigation to each job.


The connected fleet of the future

 Technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, opening new opportunities for businesses to manage risk within their vehicle fleets.

One recent development is the emergence of open platform software in telematics, which uses open application programming interfaces (APIs) to readily integrate with a wide range of software and hardware, broadening the technology’s capabilities further. Essentially, this means software and hardware developers can create a new range of applications and integrations that supplement existing telematics functionality to provide businesses with an increasing number of tools to tackle risk.

This wealth of new data should not be used to punish drivers, rather to empower them to make positive change.

For example, telematics can integrate with the vehicle management platforms operated by leasing companies or automotive retailers to provide insight into how vehicles are performing. The in-vehicle device can read engine fault codes and communicate these immediately to the vehicle management software to ensure pre-emptive maintenance can be conducted to prevent issues developing into more serious problems.

But this is only one example and applications of telematics technology continue to grow, particularly thanks to the advent of the open platform. Integration with alternative technology platforms means organisations can increasingly create solutions to meet business needs or specific industry targets.

The physical gap between back office and field has been bridged, meaning managers and drivers can work together to find solutions to long-standing problems.




3 Department for Transport, Contribu

Driving for Better Safety - Free eBook download

This eBook will guide you through some of the key understandings you need to be able to manage driver safety effectively and, at the end, provide a series of free resources you can access to help you ensure your own driver safety management system is robust, legally compliant and in line with industry-accepted good practice.

Download this eBook from Driving for Better Business and SHP to cover:

  • Why do we need to manage driver safety?
  • Duty of care – a shared responsibility;
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