Compelling case study results help Colin Hartley of JGCH make the case for telemetry

How many of us actually consider driving to be part of our normal day-to-day working regime?  After all the company vehicle that we drive on a daily basis is only provided to get us from A to B, so that we can actually start work, isn’t it?

How many board directors actually consider their employees to be drivers?  Their people are surely sales executives, business development managers, service engineers or senior executives; not drivers.

What is it though, in reality, which sets these people apart from taxi drivers or bus drivers for example?  Granted, both taxi and bus drivers tend to drive continuously during their shift, the fact of the matter is that all these vehicles are places of work.

Until everyone accepts that the vehicle is a place of work, and probably the most dangerous place that an employee will work in any given day, then we will continue to see the rise that we are currently experiencing in work-related road deaths and serious injuries.

The absolute reality of the matter is that we all need to engage in a programme of behavioural change and in the workplace this has to be imposed at boardroom level, with no differentiation between senior management and the rest of the workplace.  This is a vital component in the quest to improve driving standards and attitudes.

Drivers must accept that they are in charge of lethal weapons and that a vehicle never caused anyone any harm; it is the driver, by their actions, that inflicts the damage.  Those that perform inadequately must understand that the consequences of their actions can lead to many years of heartache, both for themselves and the victims of their negligence as well as the possibility of receiving a custodial sentence with all the additional problems that would cause.

Directors must also understand the consequences of not dealing firmly with errant drivers; custodial sentences and huge financial penalties are now a reality.

Over the past ten years or so vehicle telemetry has developed to such a stage that the data now available acts as a real aid to identifying high risk drivers.  That in itself is a huge step forward and organisations that utilise and deploy telemetry are reaping the rewards, the question is, are they realising all the potential savings that could be incurred?

It is absolutely critical that telemetry driver score data is produced in a meaningful format that translates easily to both management teams and the individual driver.  Simply installing a black box and using it to track a vehicle will not improve driver behaviour to any great degree.  It is important that the data is taken and analysed and, where necessary, errant drivers are advised of any issues that are revealed.

Let’s look at a recent case study.  Qube GB Limited, a client of JGCH and Cardinus Risk Management, operates a fleet of 426 vehicles deployed within the field service engineer sector UK-wide.  The company was experiencing high collision frequencies, the cost of claims was spiralling out of control, maintenance costs were increasing and it was under threat that the renewal cost of its fleet insurance policy would increase beyond economic viability.  A thorough review of the fleet looked in detail at all the relevant factors surrounding operational procedures.  A report was prepared and presented to the board of directors.  Qube GB did not have clear visibility of its fleet management system and drivers were left to their own devices, rarely being challenged in regard to their driving behaviour or attitude to road risk.

Colin’s report recommended, among other things, that a robust telematics system be immediately deployed.  The board sanctioned every recommendation, the most urgent of which was the full telematics implementation.

Following the development of telematics, initial data showed around 20 per cent of the fleet’s drivers were scoring in the red (high risk) and disappointingly only around 30 per cent were scoring as green (low risk) drivers.  A detailed programme for change was agreed with the company and dedicated systems and processes were introduced to drive behavioural change.  Within five months dramatic changes were evident, with less than two per dent of drivers displaying high risk behaviour and now 66 per cent of drivers were creating green scores.

These results were achieved by closely monitoring the driver score data.  Initially, drivers scoring RED were targeted.  Each RED driver was sent graphical data showing exactly how their scores had been calculated.

Each high risk driver was then counselled.  The counselling session, which was telephone based, was attended by the fleet manager, HR manager and fleet administrator.  Drivers were warned that failure to improve their driving behaviour might result in disciplinary action being taken.

The entire business engaged in what has been a huge turnaround in behavioural attitude. The results seen here do not happen by magic.  Hard work, buy-in from the entire workforce, from senior management team down, a desire to save lives and reduce serious injury are all ingredients in the cocktail.

By engaging with the workforce, Qube GB has seen savings in:

  • Insurance costs (down 32 per cent at renewal).
  • Fuel costs (12 per cent saving across the board).
  • End of lease costs (less damage on vehicles resulting in a reduction in remedial repair costs before vehicle is returned).
  • Maintenance costs (in March 2015 Qube replaced ten tyres due to damage.  Prior to installation of telemetry this was running at around 100 per month).

The one thing that cannot be measured of course is the number of lives that might have been saved and the number of serious injuries that have possibly been avoided.

Colin Hartley, managing director at JGCH Consulting Limited, is a highly experienced forensic collision reconstruction specialist and an expert witness with a focus on driver behaviour and vehicle telemetry data analysis.

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