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Better Data = Safer Fleet

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You can’t manage bad driving if you can’t measure the problem in the first place.  

The old adage that you can’t manage what you can’t measure certainly applies to driver safety. That was the argument made by Chris L’Ecluse, one of the speakers at this year’s I&E in Tampa.

L’Ecluse currently works for a telematics company, but in his former life he was a police officer in Australia. “Many of those years were spent on highway patrol and crash investigations,” he said. “What became obvious to me is that we can’t continue with the road carnage.”

Education and training

Driven by a desire to minimize road fatalities, L’Ecluse believes that fleets need to monitor their drivers in order to identify bad behaviour before it can cause a catastrophe.

“Education and training are so important,” he said. “These will mitigate our exposure to risk. That’s where telematics comes into nthe picture, since these devices tell you how your drivers are performing.”

L’Ecluse explained that everyone believes they’re a great driver. No one will admit to being a bad driver, especially if their job depends on being able to drive.

“They may not even know that they’re a bad driver,” he added, “but a telematics device gives you data that shows you what their driving is actually like.”

Fleet managers can be sure that their drivers have the skills they need to be able to drive, L’Ecluse reasoned. The fact that they have a license proves that they passed certain tests and are therefore qualified to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. “What we’re trying to gauge, and change, is their attitude and behaviour. If we can’t measure it, how will we change it?”

Big brother

L’Ecluse acknowledged that from the driver’s perspective, telematics seems like big brother watching them. “They think you have a bank of screens back at the office and a team of personnel whose only job is to watch every movement of that vehicle,” he added. “Would you like your supervisor sitting over your shoulder 24/7? Of course not. But that’s what they think is happening, and we need to change that mindset and help them understand that this is a device that’s being used primarily for their safety.”

If the big brother scenario is something your organization is having trouble with, L’Ecluse suggests leading by example. “Some organizations put telematics into their drivers’ vehicles, but not into the vehicles driven by management. The message is, ‘I want to know what you’re doing, but you can’t see what I’m doing.’” The only way to avoid that is to monitor everyone’s driving habits.

Driver fatigue

When we think about monitoring driver behaviour, we often think about the usual suspects: speeding, hard braking and hard cornering. But L’Ecluse says telematics can help with other areas of safety concern, including driver fatigue.

A person who has been awake for 20 hours or more, he added, has an alertness level similar to that of an individual with a blood alcohol level of 0.05.

“When we’re tired, we tend to stop for coffee, turn up the music or open a window,” he said. “But these are all precursors to fatigue. The way telematics tackles the fatigue issue is by ensuring that we know how long the driver has been behind the wheel. What we encourage is stopping every two hours toget out of the vehicle and stretch your legs.”

Globally, 1.25 million people die a year from road trauma, while another 50 million suffer non-fatal injuries, L’Ecluse explained. Certainly, monitoring driver behaviour with the goal of limiting fatalities and injuries within our own organizations is a cause worth investing in.

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