Telematics enable fleet managers to monitor vehicles and their drivers. These systems can act as an important diagnostic tool to identify inefficient driving behaviours, which can then lead to improvements with the support of training.
A telematics device, sometimes referred to as a ‘black box’ or ‘telematics box’, contains three main components: a GPS antenna, an accelerometer and a SIM card while intelligent which gather data on events such as idling, speeding even battery health issues.
We’ve rounded up some of the most common bad driving habits that fleet managers can use telematics to identify, and then address.
According to research by RAC Business, 88% company car drivers admit to speeding on motorways, which indicates the extent of the challenge that fleet managers face.
Speeding obviously has serious implications for fleets, with health and safety and corporate manslaughter legislation leaving companies liable in the event of serious collisions resulting from an employee driving too fast.
In addition, speeding is an inefficient use of fuel, which leads to fleets incurring unnecessary costs.
Telematics can be connected to digital tachographs in order for fleet managers to identify breaks, hours and speeding incidents.
Installing telematics in all vehicles to monitor driver behaviour and technique and can pick up speeding violations which can be addressed. When Wates Group introduced a digital scheme in June 2016 and found speeding violations reduced by 25%.
- Lane discipline
Telematics units use GPS systems and accelerometers to record vehicle movements on the road, which includes any lane-changing manoeuvres. Sudden manoeuvres can indicate that employees are overtaking or changing lanes in a careless, hazardous (or even dangerous) manner.
- Harsh braking and acceleration
Studies have found that frequent hard acceleration and braking can cost fleets an extra three miles per gallon, an inefficiency that needs to be (and can be) eradicated.
Drivers who brake suddenly or harshly are highlighting that they are reacting too late to situations around them, or not anticipating hazards or changes in road conditions. Sudden acceleration can also be a warning sign that the driver is stressed and that these sudden bursts of speed are a way of taking out their frustrations in their driving.
Intelligent algorithms in a telematics device are also able to detect events like heavy braking, harsh cornering and hard acceleration.
These bad habits that can prove expensive for the company, with additional costs incurred for brake pads or throttle cables being changed more often, bodywork repairs in the event of collisions and higher insurance premiums.
Employees should be encouraged to keep at a steady speed and even resist using their brakes at all (for the purpose of driving smoothly) and focus on the road ahead, anticipating changes in road conditions or actions by other drivers.
- Excessive fuel use
Fuel is one of the biggest costs involved in running a fleet, so one of the fleet manager’s most important jobs is to monitor this cost and identify any ways in which they can be reduced.
If certain employees have higher than expected expense claims or fuel card costs, telematics will be able to identify exactly how much fuel they are burning and why. Any wasteful or inefficient behaviours that are identified can then be addressed by highlighting them to the employee, or further training. A Shell Card, for example, enables fleet managers to set up reports to monitor everything from fleet fuel consumption to transactions and exceptions.
Idling consumes excessive fuel and increases damage to the engine, thanks to carbon becoming accumulated in the piston face, valves, and cylinder of the engine.
Telematics will help identify drivers who have a tendency to leave their engines running for long periods of time, who can be re-educated to switch off when not in use.
- Rest stops
Fleet drivers need to adhere to rules on the maximum amount of time that they are allowed to drive in a week (56 hours) or day (9 hours, or 10 twice a week), and the length of rest periods (45 minutes after four-and-a-half hours on the road).
If drivers are not adhering to these rules, they could find themselves driving in a dangerously tired state. Thankfully, telematics can also record when a vehicle is in use, which allows the fleet manager to see which employees need reminding about the need to take regular breaks.
- Not taking most efficient routes
Congestion is the bane of all fleet drivers’ lives and is something that cannot always be avoided.
However, sometimes employees become set in their ways, especially if they drive regular routes, and put up with congestion when they don’t have to. Modern satellite navigation systems use updated (sometimes constantly) traffic information to enable re-routing around congested areas, which can save time and fuel. If employees fail to use all the latest capabilities of these sat nav systems, telematics can indicate if journey times are excessive, enabling fleet managers to remind drivers of the features that will reduce this time on the road.