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Leveraging Telematics to Improve Fleet Driver Behavior

Posted by Wilmar, Inc.

Leveraging Telematics

Driver behavior is a critical part of fleet vehicle management. The way your drivers handle the vehicles determines everything from road safety to vehicle maintenance to arriving on-time for appointments. 

It's important that your skilled drivers handle the vehicles safely, but also keep an efficient appointment schedule. This isn't something that a person can do automatically, that kind of precision must be learned and practiced every day. 

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Of course, drivers don't always know when their driving is top-notch or off their game. Drivers don't always know what qualifies as the most efficient and safe way to drive on every road and route.

This is where telematics can be used to help your drivers improve their own behavior and give HQ much-needed insights on driver performance and how the system could be improved.

What is Fleet Telematics?

Vehicle telematics is a wireless way to track both the drivers and vehicles in your commercial fleet. Telematics refers specifically to tracking data but can also expand to communication with your drivers and providing your drivers with data feedback. 

Telematics data can be collected directly through vehicle sensors like an OBD II scanner and through equipment you install like GPS and dash cameras. Telematics can also be connected to a vehicle tablet or mounted phone to give your drivers live feedback and hands-free communication with HQ.

How Live Feedback Improves Driver Behavior

Tell your drivers to "drive better" and often you will see mixed to minimal results. Show them how they're driving and indicate which numbers to change and you'll see results within the week. Sometimes, on the very same day. Driver behavior often improves as direct result of data feedback.

Measure your own heartbeat and watch a readout of the pace. Now try to slow down your heartbeat or speed it up just a little. The incredible thing is that this works. It's called bio-feedback. When we are aware of something, it is easier to change the outcome. This is also how telematics and driver behavior can work.

When drivers become more acutely aware of their performance, they gain the ability to improve with far more accuracy and effectiveness than simply "trying to drive better". When they know what they're improving and receive live data feedback, driver behavior can skyrocket.

HQ with Telematics and Driver Behavior

Fleet managers can also make use of telematics to help improve driver behavior. With feedback from the vehicle sensors and after-market devices, they can put together a portfolio of driver performance for each individual driver - and for the routes they run.

The fleet manager gains perspective on who drives to fast and can talk to them about changing this behavior. They gain perspective on which routes are always running late - and where that traffic bottleneck occurs.

With the insights provided by telematics, you can optimize routes and personally advise (or hold accountable) drivers whose behavior needs improvement.

OBD II Telematics: Data Directly from the Vehicle

  • Driving Speed
  • Turn Velocity and Brake Velocity
  • Vehicle Maintenance Codes

An OBD II sensor plugs directly into the vehicle and reads the vehicle's own performance code. This tells you two types of very important data. The first is speed and velocity. Turn and brake velocity gives perspective to driving speed. Are your drivers taking turns sharply or braking hard, or are they only driving fast safely on the freeway with careful changes in velocity?

The second is vehicle maintenance codes. With an OBD II plugged in, you and your drivers receive maintenance codes in real time and with greater detail than dashboard alert lights. This can prevent disaster and prompt immediate maintenance once the vehicle returns to HQ.

Vehicle Awareness Telematics

  • Front and Rear Dash View
  • GPS Location with Live Route Completion Tracking

Your aftermarket installations can also provide critical telematics data for driver behavior and driver safety. Front and rear dash cameras, for example, can show you the context of driving speed and velocity changes, not just the raw numbers. A normally well-behaved driver may have one day of sudden "reckless" behavior but when the tapes were checked, they may have neatly avoided an accident initiated by other vehicles. 

GPS also tells your fleet manager how efficiently drivers are managing their routes. You can also see if alternate routes are being taken and whether those driver-chosen changes were better or worse than the original plan.

Driver Routing and Communication Telematics

  • Live Route Updates
  • Hands-Free Communication with HQ

Lastly, telematics includes live communication with your driver. Hands-free devices allow you to give your drivers live route updates to improve their performance in avoiding traffic, responding to schedule changes, and making it to customers on-time. You can alert a driver that their driving has become erratic and ask what's wrong and you can give drivers answers when they need to consult on a bad traffic situation.

Through live communication, HQ can provide guidance and drivers can ask for help when they need it, improving their overall performance in the field.

So how can telematics improve driver behavior? From live feedback to providing fleet management insights, having accurate vehicle data can improve both intentional and procedural driver behavior. Avoid routes that require high-speed turns and let your drivers know exactly how they can improve based on the data. Your drivers will appreciate the insights and your overall fleet performance and safety can be improved.

Contact us to talk about how to install and leverage telematics in your fleet vehicles.

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Topics: Fleet Management, Telematics, Fleet Tracking


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