As technology in vehicles becomes more prevalent, drivers have more tools than ever before to provide them with the information they need behind-the-wheel. With in-vehicle options like GPS devices, lane departure warnings and hands-free features, the technology that has changed the consumer driving experience has greatly enhanced safety on the road for commercial drivers, too.
The key for all drivers, of course, is to ensure that technology is being used properly — and that different forms of technology are being used to enhance safety rather than distract drivers or detract from driving performance. Beyond the many beneficial consumer uses, these technological additions can greatly benefit fleet managers, who have new tools to help them track, in real time, important information such as how vehicles are being driven and how drivers are spending their time.
For fleet managers, this creates both exciting new opportunities and greater challenges. While automakers are including more of these options as standard in new vehicles, most fleets are adding new technology to vehicles as aftermarket additions. Because of that, the new components may not always enhance data collection and communication the way they’re designed.
The Challenge of Incompatible Fleet Technology
When fleet managers develop a system that compiles data about safety and performance from multiple sources, they may not be getting the complete big picture. When a system is pieced together from different sources, they may find themselves comparing apples to oranges, or there may be certain pieces of information that are overlooked entirely.
Being able to integrate all vehicle telematics, OEM additions and any third-party vendor platforms can make a significant difference in how well managers can track vehicle and driver performance. Understanding what is happening with both drivers and their vehicles creates a complete view of where problems could occur and what needs to be improved. It’s an opportunity to improve safety on a level that simply hasn’t been possible in the past.
Bringing Fleet Safety Technology Solutions Together
The convergence of the many different tech components also ensures that managers aren’t doubling up efforts in one area of safety and performance data tracking while ignoring another. It means only paying for what is being used, and not paying for programs and analytics that aren’t.
While solutions vary from one fleet to the next, depending on size and industry, the right fleet management system will alway be the one that is tailored to provide exactly what that fleet needs. It should allow for seamless integration with any built-in manufacturer’s systems and also should have room for future customization, to make way for evolving technology down the road. The more it is able to be customized, the better long-term investment it provides.
Improving Driver Safety Through Big Data, Small Details
With so much data-collecting technology available, it’s important for companies to identify what metrics they need from their program and then know how to use it. The convergence of such technology can provide a full picture of driver safety and vehicle performance, and with the addition of an advanced telematics program, fleet managers can diagnose where the company can save money — such as through improving idle times and hours of service.
Integrating advanced telematics with a driver metrics program takes the power of converged technology even farther. An integrated data collection program that creates a full profile of a driver’s habits can further increase efficiency for each individual driver. Harnessing the power of these metrics, it allows fleet managers to track driver behavior, issue alerts and warnings, change assignments and resolve problems through a high-tech interface.
Because the data is stored in a single place, it is easier for fleet managers to flag missteps and resolve them before they become issues.
Driving to a Safer Future
Fleet technology will continue to evolve. As add-on hardware, mobile apps, intelligent dash cams, and new software solutions enter the market, it’s important that fleet managers stay focused on finding the options that best suit the needs and requirements of their particular fleet. Finding programs that integrate into the existing structure of the company’s technology, as well as providing opportunities to expand in the future, are key to making sure that they will fit the company’s needs — even as those needs change.
Smith System can help fleet managers integrate existing technology with new platforms to improve driver and vehicle efficiency. And, our KeySix driving metrics provides managers with individual insights into every driver in the fleet. From driving history and license status to on-road behaviors, we can help track the information today’s fleet managers need so they can resolve issues at the touch of a button.