Managing Your Fleet

Data analytics in the driving seat: Keeping staff and cargo safe on the road

5 min read

31 July 2018

The most common cause leading to accidents in a vehicle fleet is a lack of compliance to driving standards. So, organisations need to take steps to gain greater insight into how drivers are behaving.

Most companies do not have time, money and resources to waste when things don’t go as planned. One area of a business where things have the potential to deviate drastically from the plan is in fleet operations, where accidents are all too common.

Accidents not only put driver and public welfare at risk, they can also risk causing damage to valuable cargo, significantly delay operations, and ultimately lead to a loss of revenue. Greater insight into the way your team drives will be of great value.

Monitoring each individual driver, however, is not easy to do when vehicles are moving 24/7 and often across remote locations. This becomes even more difficult as a fleet grows over time.

The application of analytics can play a big role in this. Using real-time journey trackers, organisations can apply analytics to collect data on driver behaviours, monitor levels of fatigue, intervene if it detects a driver isn’t alert enough, and identify overall trends in performance.

Real-time intelligence

In-vehicle monitoring systems should be implemented to capture real-time data about the journey being conducted, and feed this back to a central platform.

This should take into account factors such as speed, distance covered, the route being taken and whether the driver is abiding by the allocated break points. This enables fleet managers to determine which drivers are adhering to simple health and safety guidelines.

Organisations can gather more complex data than this by utilising analytics to create risk profiles for individual drivers based on their driving behaviours.

For example, do they position themselves in the correct lane? Do they accelerate harshly and give enough braking time based on the size and weight of the vehicle? Do they have a habit of speeding in a particular environment? The technology can interpret and make sense of the data for fleet managers, by using a scoring mechanism based on compliance.

Alongside this ability to observe, an integrated telephony system should be linked up to each vehicle, allowing one-to-one communications so that fleet managers can actually intervene based on the real-time intelligence they are receiving. 

It means that assistance could be given, if for example, it becomes clear the driver isn’t following the pre-planned route, or if the data flags up that there is a high risk of accident.

Data on levels of driver alertness can also be obtained. The fleet manager could check in with drivers at regular intervals and their reaction time monitored throughout. If the time gets slower and slower and it becomes clear levels of alertness are dropping, managers could intervene and schedule an unplanned break.

Reviewing the data

Through applying analytics, organisations can be presented with a reliable data-set on how their drivers are performing.

It enables fleet managers to review the information at both a macro level – looking at overall trends in driving behaviours – and a micro level, for example honing in on the data and looking at what driver compliance was like between particular hours of the day/night.

Having access to this data means organisations can focus attention on the areas that really need improving, without wasting precious time and money on generic driver improvement courses.

At best, accidents are an inconvenience, and at worst, they can temporarily grind your business to a halt. Having a better understanding of driver compliance and behaviours is a challenge for all companies, from SMEs through to billion dollar, multi-national organisations.

Utilising analytics provides the ability to monitor, assess and act on driver behaviours, providing a level of insight not otherwise afforded. Investing in an analytics solution and having the ability to observe and intervene can save a lot of time, money, and protect client relationships in the long term.

Sonia Sedler is the managing director, Europe, at Sutherland Global Services.