1 June 2018

Telematics data very effective in changing driver behaviour, says safety expert

Telematics data is “very effective” in encouraging behaviour change among drivers to improve fleet safety, according to Dr Lisa Dorn, associate professor of driver behaviour at Cranfield University.

Speaking at the spring seminar of ACFO, the UK’s premier fleet decision-makers’ organisation, Dr Dorn told delegates that there was “a lot of work to be done” to help drivers overcome lapses that either resulted in crashes or increased the risk of incidents, and highlighted that introducing telematics to fleet vehicles was “an excellent way of monitoring behaviour”.

Dr Dorn said: “If drivers are not aware of the danger they are in how can they be expected to change behaviour? Telematics data is a good way of fleet managers providing evidence to address the risk.”

Activa Contracts’ suite of vehicle and driver risk management solutions available to customers includes Lightfoot, sophisticated in-vehicle driver behaviour technology. The technology has the ability to cut crash rates by up to 60% and fuel bills by as much as 20%, while reducing vehicle wear and tear, insurance premiums and carbon dioxide (CO2), emissions.

Billed as “the next evolution in vehicle telemetry”, once Lightfoot is installed in a vehicle, its dashboard-mounted screen delivers real-time visual and verbal guidance to employees on their driving style. That approach directly influences driving style ‘in the moment’ and empowers drivers to modify the way they drive, quickly becoming second nature. In that respect the technology is a significant step-change from traditional telematics products that provide ‘after the event’ data, which fleet managers have to analyse extensively and then respond to retrospectively.

Fleet decision-makers receive a weekly email highlighting the at-the-wheel performance of individual drivers in a colour coded chart and their ranking within the fleet, organised from the best driver downwards.

Dr Dorn, during her presentation, highlighted that there was a range of driver behaviour interventions to manage fleet safety and teach new skills to employees on the road, and suggested that “knowledge and skills-based driver training in the long run will not keep fleets safe”.

She continued: “Fleets need to do something that is more in-depth. When not being observed driver behaviour returns to what it was hence the benefits of telematics because drivers are being continuously monitored.”

Describing telematics and the management information gathered as “nudging technology to coach drivers to understand themselves” and change behaviour, Dr Dorn said: “Fleet managers can use telematics interventions to drive very effective feedback through coaches.

“Having a conversation with drivers once a week is very beneficial. If fleets do not keep messages going and reminding drivers of their responsibilities then very soon behaviour drifts back to before interventions were introduced.”

Dr Dorn concluded that for fleets that wanted to change driver behaviour over the long term telematics’ data and a coach were required “and not just a one-off driver training intervention” and added: “Don’t just leave telematics working in the background because eventually drivers will ignore the technology.”