It’s hard to think of a technological advance that has made such an impact on fleet management as telematics.
When used correctly, it can be an incredibly useful tool for fleet managers to monitor, evaluate, advise and improve everything from driver behaviour to fuel economy; route planning to vehicle health.
Starting off as a relatively simple tracking system that relied on GPS, telematics has developed into sophisticated software which can provide an effective fleet management solution, connecting vehicles, drivers and managers. Real-time location data also enables fleet managers to utilise their fleet to the maximum.
The latest BT Fleet Operational Insight Report , suggests that 74% of UK fleets containing 100+ vehicles are using telematics – that’s 51% of all fleets.
According to analyst Berg Insight , the number of active fleet management systems deployed in commercial vehicle fleets across Europe was 6.6 million in 2016; this number is expected to reach 14.1 million by 2021.
Seven reasons why telematics is taking off:
- High fuel economy, lower emissions
Cutting fuel costs is the main reason why many companies begin using telematics. Not only does the technology encourage employees to drive more smoothly and decrease idling time, which can reduce fuel use by as much as 10-20%, but it also results in lower emissions. Spain’s Telefónica has a fleet of more than 600 vans and other light vehicles and since deploying telematics, its fuel usage has fallen by 10%, along with reduced CO2 emissions. Telematics also helps drivers choose the most efficient routes and avoid congestion.
- Predicting maintenance
Keeping vehicles on the road is vital for any fleet operator, so minimising downtime for service, maintenance and repair is essential. Instead of just waiting for something to go wrong, advanced telematics systems can identify problems before they happen. A small device is plugged into the vehicle’s diagnostic socket which monitors a range of data, such as battery condition, electrics, engine management and other systems, identifying problems before they trigger a warning light or result in a failure. Additionally, historical data can be used to identify particular models which might be susceptible to specific problems.
- Better driving behaviour
Telematics can significantly reduce risky driving behaviour such as harsh acceleration, braking, cornering and speeding, resulting in smoother, safer journeys. By monitoring a driver’s behaviour in near real-time, fleet managers can identify problem areas, including excessive idling, as they occur and address these issues accordingly.
- Fewer speeding offences
A positive side-effect of better driver behaviour is the impact on speeding offences. According to the RAC Telematics Report 2016 , 49% of UK business using telematics saw a fall in speeding violations.
- Lower insurance premiums
The 2017 New Zealand Telematics Benchmark Report  conducted by Teletrac Navman, a global leader in GPS tracking technology and services, surveyed 212 fleet operations and fleet management professionals and found that nearly a quarter of organisations (23%) that used telematics had lowered their accident rate. Better driving, fewer accidents and a fall in speeding offences all add up to lower insurance premiums.
- Cutting fraud
For fleet managers, mileage fraud is one of the biggest challenges. Independent research, commissioned by Shell , revealed that almost two thirds of fleet managers (65%) in the UK see fuel related fraud as a major issue for their business. Many companies still require their employees to submit their mileage reports on paper mileage logs or spreadsheets.
Telematics is a more accurate way to capture mileage and allows companies to track private as well as business mileage. With systems such as TomTom Telematics, a driver presses a button to select business or private mileage before they set off. At the end of each month, the driver can look at trip data on a phone app, confirm that everything is correct and submit it to the finance department in minutes.
- Driver support
Despite initial fears of “Big Brother”, resistance to telematics is decreasing. A survey by LeasePlan , one of Europe’s biggest vehicle leasing groups, found that 50% of drivers would feel comfortable with telematics monitoring their driving.
So, car data obtained via telematics provides fleet managers with the ability to monitor their drivers, boost efficiency and enhance safety like never before. Perhaps the challenge now is to avoid data overload…
 Fraud Matters