Don’t look now but there is a real revolution in transportation happening right now. The mainstream media, along with our politicians and the general public, are fascinated with electric vehicles and fantasies about autonomous driving. Meanwhile the fleet market is leading the charge on making real gains in efficiency and safety with telematics, in-cab video, and safety technologies that are available today.
If you are still fretting about the “Big Brother” effect and alienating your drivers because you are watching over them, it’s time to get over that. Over 80% of the fleet vehicles in operation today are service vehicles, meaning they are expensive and heavy trucks and vans. Every one of those vehicles, and every one of those drivers, is a potential financial catastrophe waiting to happen. Remember high school physics? Force equals mass times acceleration. Several tons traveling at 65 miles per hour produces a lot of force and can do a lot of damage.
Having a cutting-edge telematics system along with in-cab video can do wonders for reducing undesirable driver behavior. Most fleets are reporting it significantly reduces accident rates and significantly reduces instances of risky behavior like texting while driving, hard braking, hard acceleration, and speeding. I’m sure a lot of fleet drivers aren’t thrilled at the prospect of having eyes on them all the time but they’ll be happy as a clam, and more likely still alive, when that first accident happens, and the video shows that they weren’t distracted and did all the right things to minimize damage.
The OEMs have done an incredible job driving life-saving safety technology down to the lowest fleet trim levels over the last two years. You don’t need to buy the Platinum High Aspen Louis Vuitton version to get blind spot warning indicators, or automatic emergency braking, or back up alarms. Those technologies are making a big difference but you’re losing ground to the best run fleets if you aren’t looking at driver behavior monitoring and telematics too. NHTSA statistics are showing 5% to 20% reductions in accidents, injuries, and fatalities with most of these OEM related safety products. You would have to be crazy to ignore the easy pay-back in dollars and lives. But you would also have to be crazy to ignore the further improvements you can get from driver monitoring.
We do a lot of surveys here. One of the nice things about having access to over 250,000 fleets is that we can find out what works and what doesn’t on a regular basis. Most of the topics we do surveys on show a mixed bag of results.
Whether it’s alternative fuels, FMC customer satisfaction, or a lifecycle cost study, there is always a mix of fleets that are very satisfied to sort-of satisfied to not-quite satisfied. Unless we are asking about telematics and driver behavior monitoring. For those studies, the results always come back with a return on investment that is quicker than expected, a higher level of satisfaction, a better than expected improvement in efficiency, and most importantly, a reduction in accident rates. It’s one of the few slam dunks in our business. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, you need to do it soon.