Element Director of Product Strategy and Telematics, Kim Clark, and Collision and Fleet Safety Director of Product Management, Brian Kinniry, share their expertise in how a connected fleet program can improve driver safety.
Consider these safety-related use cases for employing connectivity solutions in your fleet.
Driver behavior related data is generated out of many sources including telematics, OEM embedded solutions, mobile applications, accident data, motor vehicle records, driver safety training, vehicle related violations and a host of other risk and safety functions. It is challenging to bring all this data under a single risk view. Therefore, some fleets bounce between systems and have multiple methods of discussing and viewing high risk drivers in their organization. Brian Kinniry sees added value to a single integrated system for risk and safety.
“Today, fleets can benefit from a closed-loop resolution of risk events. Fleets should be able to gain an understanding of risk levels from data collected through telematics, motor vehicle records (MVRs) and collision history, address these risks by appropriate driver intervention and training, resolve any incidents that occur, and have full transparency and records of the entire safety and risk process,” per Kinniry.
Clark added that OEM embedded technology will only expand the type of risk events that can be captured from a vehicle so having a single integration point to view risk is critical.
As discussed above, a single point of integration is critical for reducing administration. But, according to Kinniry, the best solution goes beyond integration to assimilation.
“Often, integration is viewed as a better way to administer a risk management program by reducing the number of platforms a fleet manager must utilize. But to gain the greatest benefits, fleets need to go beyond integration to assimilate data and gain a full understanding of the risk levels of your drivers, and fleet overall. The goal is to blend all of the vehicle, device or mobile application driver behavior data with other safety-related data, especially collision data, to build predictive models that identify drivers more likely to be involved in a crash, and prescriptive actions that can reduce that risk,” says Kinniry.
Kim Clark notes that a blended risk model will help clients better calibrate their in-cab coaching modules provided through a connected vehicle solution, potentially differentiating coaching needed for high-risk drivers for certain behaviors. She also believes that assimilation is critical to help clients transition to OEM embedded solutions as the vast majority of fleets are mixed with various manufacturers and model years.
“Because most fleets operate vehicles from multiple manufacturers, as OEMs build embedded connectivity solutions, there is a need to blend the data from different OEM platforms. Furthermore, the driver behavior data will vary in type and calibration levels from the OEMs. Additionally, fleets may have telematics devices to incorporate as well. In the last couple of years, new third-party data aggregators have come to the market, providing fleets with more solutions for combining connectivity solution data streams.”
A key component for an effective fleet safety program is accountability. If your data indicates poor driving behaviors, yet there are no repercussions for this behavior, drivers will be unlikely to change. Likewise, if drivers are exhibiting good behavior behind the wheel, and there is no recognition of their efforts, drivers will lose motivation to continue these good behaviors. According to Kim Clark, accountability starts with organizational buy-in, and is bolstered by proper training of those involved in the accountability chain.
“Both fleet teams’ and operational managers’ involvement are necessary for improving driver behavior. This requires buy-in from the beginning on how drivers will be monitored, what is important for their scorecards, how good drivers will be acknowledged and how to intervene with poor drivers,” says Clark. For instance, if a driver has a high number of speeding incidents, there must be agreement in how this will be addressed with the drivers consistently across the organization. Managers need to be trained so they are comfortable with reading event reports and scorecards and providing feedback to drivers.”
Kinniry suggests that self-accountability is an important, and powerful, part of changing driver behavior. “Studies have shown that most change happens when a person is self-motivated and holds themselves accountable to change. A fleet of drivers that self-correct their behaviors before their manager must intervene is a safer fleet. But to enable self-accountability, fleets must make drivers aware of their behaviors.”
Driver awareness of how they will be held accountable for their driving is an important element in an effective safety program using driver behavior data from a connected vehicle, device, or mobile application. Per Clark, even the fact that drivers know they are being monitored can improve their behaviors.
“Because of data privacy rules, nearly all fleet policies require drivers to acknowledge and accept that they are being tracked with a connected vehicle, device or mobile application in their company-provided vehicle. Some fleets even have labels on the vehicle that state the vehicle is being monitored by a GPS device.”
Clark continues, “Some solutions have the ability to provide in-cab feedback to drivers, such as a loud buzzing when speeding is detected. It is annoying, and to stop the buzzing, drivers must lower their speed. It is quite effective. We have taken baseline measurements prior to turning this feature on and during use of the in-cab feedback, and there is a distinct reduction in unsafe driving events for our clients.”
Kinniry adds that the more information you can share with your drivers, the greater their awareness is to their own behaviors.
“Drivers have a potential blind spot when it comes to distracted driving. They may not be aware of how often they engage in this behavior, and how dangerous it is. And, according to NETS, distracted driving costs employers more than four times the cost of other unsafe driving behaviors exhibited on the job. A mobile connectivity solution is one tool that makes this possible. This technology, built in a smartphone app, raises driver awareness to a new level. These apps provide drivers with a detailed view of their behaviors behind the wheel for phone distractions as well as speeding, hard braking, hard cornering, and harsh acceleration, within minutes after completing a trip,” according to Kinniry.
Kinniry continues, “Mobile application solutions can give drivers further awareness of how they rank among their team, with anonymized leaderboard rankings that protect team members’ privacy while prompting competition to improve driving behaviors. It also provides an avenue for recognition of good driving, with manager awareness and ability to provide immediate feedback. Fleets that employ this technology have gained significant safety improvements, especially among high-risk drivers who have shown a 40% decrease in speeding incidents after using the application.”
For fleets with unassigned vehicles, using telematics devices or embedded OEM technology to monitor driver behaviors presents a challenge. Clark shares a potential solution to this situation. “For vehicles, such as pool vehicles, that are used by more than one driver, fleets can use a key fob solution that requires drivers to log in prior to using the vehicle. This log is matched to the data to pair the trip records to the appropriate driver.”
Kinniry comments that mobile connectivity solutions are already tied to the driver, so trips are automatically matched to the right driver. However, because it is a mobile application solution, Kinniry sees a potential complication with tracking of drivers outside of their company vehicle.
“While mobile connectivity solutions are aligned with a driver, the challenge exists that it may record trips when they are driving their personal vehicle. In situations such as these, look for apps that offer Bluetooth devices to attach to a vehicle and enable recording trips only when the driver’s paired smartphone is in proximity to that device,” shares Kinniry.
As technology advances, it has resulted in new options for clients that are more targeted to client’s needs and can be a more viable option to work within a fleet’s budget.
Clark notes that as the price of in vehicle cameras has decreased significantly over the last few years, their application has widened.
“We used to see the in-cab cameras only being utilized in Class 8 fleets. These cameras can integrate into a connectivity solution, so managers get a video clip of what is happening in the cab when an unsafe driving event is detected. When you have a truck that costs more than $100,000, spending $1,000 on a camera made sense, but it was cost prohibitive for other types of vehicles. Now that the cost of those cameras has decreased, it makes them more accessible to fleets.”
Clark also says that certain connectivity solutions can be targeted to client’s data needs and crafted at price points that are more palatable than a traditional telematics device offering.
Kinniry sees that the mobile connectivity solution may be a more affordable choice but recognizes that it is a primarily safety-focused solution.
“Mobile is now part of the mix of connectivity solutions available to fleets. It provides a lower price point than other solutions, is designed to address driver safety, and is easy to deploy. However, fleets concerned with monitoring fuel usage, reducing idling, optimizing trip routing, DOT compliance, and engine diagnostics would require a telematics device or OEM embedded solution directly connected to the vehicle,” observes Kinniry.