Using high-tech fleet innovations to improve driver safety
By Greg Newham, Director, Verizon Connect
Monday, 19 December, 2022
A JBM Logistics truck was driving down an empty country road in regional Australia, when a kangaroo suddenly jumped into its path and collided with the vehicle.
Thanks to advancements in fleet technology, the company’s managing director received a notification of the incident via an integrated video solution within minutes, and was able to immediately check on the driver’s wellbeing.
This type of occurrence — common for companies with a fleet — demonstrates the effectiveness and importance of using fleet technologies to improve safety and driving conditions. Drivers often face unpredictable conditions and potentially hazardous situations while working on tight deadlines.
The latest figures by Safe Work Australia show that the economic value of reducing the number of work-related injuries and illnesses between 2008 and 2018 would have saved employers a staggering AU$49.5 billion in overheads, with associated health expenditure totalling AU$37.6 billion. Over that period, the loss to Australia’s overall economic output equated to losing 2.2 million full-time employees.
New fleet technologies have made it easier to assess the safety of drivers and improve the day-to-day operations of a company, ensuring they have adopted safe practices and are encouraging good driving from fleet operators.
Using connected fleet technologies to access real-time data
What isn’t measured, cannot be managed. Telematics is the combination of telecommunications and informatics, using small hardware devices on vehicles to collect operations data in real time.
Businesses with fleets have been using telematics for a number of years to keep track of their vehicles and reduce the theft and misuse of company cars. But huge improvements in technology have facilitated telematics that deliver much more than just GPS coordinates — instead creating a fully connected vehicle, assisting with everything from route optimisation to helping a driver quickly adapt to an unpredictable situation.
According to Boston Consulting Group, connected vehicles will make up 53% of all road traffic by 2025, and 77% of all traffic by 2030. Fleets using connected technologies will have up-to-date data from traffic light sensors, GPS route mapping and other connected technologies to make informed decisions.
Encouraging good driving
Fleet management technologies are being used to actively monitor driver fatigue and other health issues, raise awareness of potentially dangerous driving and promote safe behaviour by fleet drivers.
According to the International Transport Forum, it’s estimated that excessive speed is a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes in Australia, and this figure is likely underestimated.
Connected technologies can include features that send fleet managers near-instant alerts about the speed at which a driver is going, helping to ensure they are not speeding or driving dangerously.
A broad awareness of the real-time data collection and monitoring can cultivate a culture of safety and reassurance for drivers, rewarding good behaviour and raising safety across the board.
Real-time incident response
A fleet management platform that features integrated video through telematics can mitigate the risk of accidents and assist with a quick response in the event of an incident.
As seen with the kangaroo incident, this allows fleet managers to view specified video snippets of accidents just moments after they happen, and to be alerted of an accident as soon as possible to assess the safety of a driver.
Artificial intelligence is also being incorporated to analyse footage and classify it based on its level of dangerousness and its underlying cause, saving businesses time and money.
Another example of this was when a customer’s brand new truck was scraped by another truck at a roundabout. Thanks to the AI system and telematics on the truck, the fleet manager was sent a video of the incident within minutes of being notified. This allowed the company to check on the health and safety of its driver as soon as possible. And having this video on hand so quickly helped the company to avoid a lengthy insurance claim for the new truck.
Coaching good behaviour
New technologies can play an important role in assisting managers in coaching drivers in safe practices.
The huge amounts of data collected through connected vehicles and the use of artificial intelligence to parse through footage allows for far more effective monitoring and training of drivers.
This also facilitates the analysis of longer-term behaviours of drivers and for comparisons to be made with other fleet drivers. This helps to incentivise good behaviour and safe driving.
There is also an emerging use of driver-facing cameras, which capture the in-cab perspective to assist with training.
Ensuring vehicles are running smoothly
Connected technologies can provide deep insights into the health of a vehicle and ensure any potentially dangerous defects are detected as early as possible.
This data can assist in identifying when a vehicle needs a service, saving potentially huge amounts of money, and dangerous incidents for drivers.
In the longer term, once connected technologies become commonplace on roads around the country, overall safety conditions will be greatly improved for all drivers on the road, for the benefit of all road users.
Using telematics can set a fleet-based business apart from the pack. A recent Isuzu Future of Trucking report found that less than a third of Australian businesses are using data to manage their fleets more effectively.
Technology should be embraced as a tool to improve driver safety, and telematics and other innovations present a safe and effective step forward.
These should be key safety instruments for any company with a fleet, and seen as ways to mitigate the significant risks of dangerous driving, unpredictable road conditions, congestion, fatigue and faulty vehicles.
Safety should be a top priority for all businesses, and this is especially important for those with a fleet, no matter what size.
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