Around the world, the challenges involved with ensuring safer roads is nothing new. With the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the road each year, the need for safety-focused solutions have also continued to grow.
This increase in road-going vehicles is partly driven by population growth, but also by the explosion in e-commerce and home delivery services, which have added and continues to add countless vans and trucks to our roads.
As these vehicles get bigger and their loads heavier to meet demand, the need to be extra careful and safe when operating them is even more important.
Luckily, many businesses around the world have now come to realise the importance of investing in driver safety, particularly using telematics devices. This has not only helped to ensure the safety of their own operation, but also those sharing the roads with them.
The link between telematics and road safety
Firstly, what is telematics? In its most basic form, a telematics device consists of a GPS tracking unit combined with other on-board sensors & diagnostics tools. These all work together to give vehicle owners more data and a better view of their vehicle’s overall status and activities.
This unprecedented visibility into the fleet vehicles’ daily activities is the enabler for a range of safety enhancements throughout the operation. The best example of this is that telematics provides valuable information about driving behaviour, which when utilised correctly can help improve road safety.
How telematics can improve road safety
- Driver behaviour monitoring
In terms of a fleet operation’s safety, the value added by a telematics solution really comes to light through its ability to monitor various driving behaviours. If a driver is speeding, braking harshly or cornering too quickly, the system records the data and can use it to improve safety in a couple of ways. Firstly, it can provide instant feedback with audible or visual cues from a dedicated in-cab device – alerting the driver to certain infractions.
Secondly, this data can be used to create driver behaviour profiles, which can be used as a basis to provide corrective training, and to monitor driver progress over time.
However, the implementation of driver behaviour monitoring needs to be handled carefully and sensitively. Drivers need to have a clear understanding of its use and how it will benefit them and the business.
- Road safety policy
In addition to its day-to-day monitoring of driver behaviour, a fleet telematics solution can play a critical role in the business’ overall road safety policy. For example, the data it provides can help ensure that drivers are adhering to certain policy stipulations, which in time helps to create a culture of safety across the operation.
- On-board cameras
Having eyes on the operation can further enhance a fleet’s on-road safety. With driver, road and cargo-facing cameras on board, fleet operators can review any incidents that may occur. And, with the latest artificial intelligence built in, these cameras can now even help predict and discourage potentially dangerous behaviour to prevent incidents from happening in the first place.
- Maintenance schedules
A telematics solution can help fleet operators stay on top of when vehicle services are due. Properly maintained vehicles present less of a risk to drivers and fellow road users; further enhancing the operation’s road safety goals.
- Big data
The data gathered by telematics devices around the world help to create a global picture of what road safety looks like in each region. Telematics solution providers can utilise this data to inform road-safety models and predictions, while allowing fleet operators certain benchmarking capabilities that would otherwise not be available.
What to look for in a telematics solution provider
Businesses and those in control of them have a big role to play in ensuring road safety wherever they operate. Luckily, there are many telematics or fleet management providers around the world who specialise in helping fleet businesses achieve the safest operation possible. Here’s what you should look out for:
- Proven track record
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. When considering a telematics provider, it’s always a good idea to see what they have done for their other clients. For instance, after Putco, South Africa’s largest and oldest bus company, started installing Netstar’s fleet management solutions, the company reported a 70% reduction in recorded accidents with claims against them going down by 36%.
Armed with real-world examples like this, it’s much easier to make an informed decision about a potential telematics provider.
- Advanced technology & accessibility
The days of office-based desktop applications are over. A telematics solution provider worth their salt will offer a web-based platform that gives you access to your fleet from anywhere. It is also important to consider the other additional products and services they offer, that could further enhance your operation when the need arises.
- Cost-effectiveness & return on investment
If you are considering a telematics solution, it is important to compare your needs against the features you get, and the costs involved. While getting a telematics solution does involve an initial investment, many businesses recover this initial expense within a year through both fleet efficiency improvements and safety-related cost savings.