While technological developments have, in many different ways, simplified the lives of drivers, they’ve also significantly increased the risk for distractions behind the wheel.
The same navigational devices that alert drivers to detours and roadblocks may also be the reason they take their eyes off the road for a second too long. The phones that allow drivers to report in from a work site may also pull their attention away from what’s happening on the road.
In addition to all the well-documented hazards related to distracted driving, a 2015 study from the International Association of Traffic Safety Sciences found that driver speed was significantly slower when they were performing in-vehicle tasks that kept them distracted.
Using a navigation device made drivers spend less time looking at the road ahead, and having to operate the device — doing such tasks as controlling the volume or changing the settings — resulted in slower driving speeds.
Many of these practices that drivers do “just for a second” can have long-lasting adverse effects, both on the driver and on the company. In many cases, a driver would choose differently if someone was in the cab with him observing his behavior, or if he knew his actions could be seen and documented.
With the rollout of telematics, safety managers now have the option to monitor and see first-hand what kind of behavior is going on behind the wheel.
Using Telematics to Improve Driver Behavior
Telematics has dramatically changed the kind of information available to safety managers. In cases where specific behaviors are repeatedly occurring, such as hard braking or aggressive acceleration, these devices give safety managers a tip-off of what might be going on behind the wheel. Often such behaviors are the result of distractions, and whether those distractions come from devices within the vehicle or from the outside, becoming aware of the problem is the first step in changing behavior.
Once a manager learns there’s a potential safety issue, it opens the door to being able to correct behaviors that could lead to crashes and even lawsuits against the company.
Telematics also provide a clear picture of where vehicles are located to ensure drivers are staying on their route and maintaining their expected schedule. Telematics can provide a documented and indisputable record of where drivers are at any given time and can be a useful tool for minimizing risk.
The technology has progressed rapidly in the past few years, which means it can now provide an accurate description of what's happening behind the wheel. This detail gives fleet safety managers the ability to identify unsafe behaviors and provide the specific type of training required to correct that behavior.
Here’s a look at three ways telematics is being used to improve driver safety.
No. 1: Providing Insight for Driver Training
Behind-the-wheel driver safety training is one of the most effective ways to teach new drivers the best safety measures, or to correct bad habits of long-time drivers.
Telematics provides a similar function, allowing trainers to “ride along” with a driver and make observations about how they manage certain driving situations and what habits can improve with advanced driver safety training.
No. 2: Monitoring Driver Behavior
Telematics technology allows for greater awareness of practices that are costing the company money — both concerning safety and fuel efficiency. Things like the amount of time a vehicle spends idling or how much fuel is consumed give a good indication of how a driver is using their time and where improvements could be made.
The ability to identify and correct these actions can reduce collisions and repair costs, improve driver attention and productivity, and enhance the overall efficiency of your fleet. This capability also gives fleets the chance to reward drivers for a job well done in situations where they have shown improvement in areas that they have been asked to improve.
No. 3: Reducing Fraudulent Claims
When it comes to trucking crashes, telematics can mean the difference between a costly lawsuit payout and being entirely exonerated from blame. Being able to see which party was responsible for the actions can save companies time, money and headaches.
With detailed data, fleets are in a better position to manage a claim or pursue recovery of damages. Very often in a crash situation, statements made by witnesses or by others involved in the collision can be contradictory and create too much room for confusion. By adding telematics data, incidents can resolve more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Is Telematics Right for Your Fleet?
Telematics devices are designed to work with other rapidly advancing safety technologies. Components like lane departure and forward collision warnings give safety managers immediate insight into the driver’s actions. This insight means that the safety features of telematics and technology can work with every company’s fleet to improve the activities that affect both safety and economics. Telematics data can also be used to show insurers a stellar safety record, which can ultimately lead to lower premiums.
Data is playing a more significant role than ever before in fleet safety, and telematics is providing managers with more in-depth and accurate insights into what’s happening on the road and in the cab. From reducing crashes and traffic violations to providing drivers with real-time alerts to ensure greater safety, telematics offers both insight and guidance for drivers and safety managers alike.
Every driver safety professional has to decide whether or not telematics is right for their fleet, but this technology continues to offer advantages and safety measures that are worth considering.
If you’re looking for ways to improve safety, reduce crashes and complement your driver safety training, telematics might be the right solution for you.