Minimizing Motor Vehicle Crashes: How Telematics is the New Driver Safety Measure
With operator error contributing to nearly all motor vehicle crashes, employers are looking for new ways to incentivize good driving and track dangerous driving. With telematics, this is becoming much easier.
Calling the number on the “How’s My Driving” bumper sticker is not the only way employers can remain informed on their drivers’ safety. With the recent growing technology in telematics, employers can track, evaluate, and reward employee driving tendencies.
According to NHTSA, 94 to 96 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve human error. The main type of human error is distracted driving, especially with the prevalence of mobile devices. Rates of crashes caused by mobile device use has continued to rise in recent years. In fact, the CDC calculates that each day, about nine people are killed and 1,000 more are injured in collisions caused by distracted driving.
If we step back from global statistics on motor vehicle crashes, we see that these trends greatly apply to worker safety and worker-related deaths in the U.S. Motor crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. More than 27,000 workers in the U.S. died in a work-related motor vehicle crash between 2003 and 2017.
Employers can ensure the safety of their drivers through many steps, but one major way is through telematics. Telematics is a safety technology that can help correct unsafe driving in real-time and receive tools to coach and provide performance feedback to employees. It allows businesses to catch patterns of unsafe driving behavior before they result in a serious accident.
More specifically, telematics identifies unsafe behaviors like harsh acceleration, braking, and cornering. Connecting with vehicle sensors add even more functionality, including the ability to track idling and even seatbelt use.
Braking patterns is the number one indicator of distracted and unsafe driving. Various patterns can indicate various driver activities. For example, a higher number of breaks could indicate the driver is following other vehicles too closely. Frequent harsh braking incidents could mean the driver is habitually texting or eating while on the road. The chances they will cause a collision—and an insurance claim—are heightened dramatically.
To minimize deaths and injuries on the road, employers install telematics systems to both track their employees’ driving and reward those who perform well and safely. Automotive Fleet’s article on telematics lists the following recommendations for employers on how to implement these technologies and use them to encourage worker safety:
- Rather than forcing every driver into general training, consider using telematics to tailor your safety training to the individual.
- Use the power of gamification: use telematics data to set up a program that rewards the safest drivers, teams, or branches. This can include assigning point values to specific behaviors. Drivers can earn points for safe driving and lose them when they engage in unsafe habits. At the end of each month or year, update the scores and reward the best performers.
- Consider giving rewards to the driver with the overall best safety rating or one for the most improved driver.
- As you see improvements to your fleet safety record, announce them with excitement. Sharing data with customers—and employees—will promote your fleet’s reputation and credibility. Consider doing this through forums like monthly newsletters.
- You can even create mobile app that ties into your telematics system. By doing this, you can provide customers with real-time updates as to their driver’s location and E.T.A. The app could potentially give employees a way to tap into their own data and how it compares to that of their colleagues.
Encouraging a little healthy competition in the workplace can yield positive results for company safety and culture.
Plus, telematics has a potential to predict external hazards like vehicle malfunctions; while most accidents are a result of operator error, some collisions are caused by the vehicle and not the driver. Many modern vehicles have sensors that monitor the car’s mechanical and electrical system and generate diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) when something goes wrong. Some telematics systems allow fleet managers to receive alters whenever a DTC appears on a vehicle. Managers and drivers can then make a game-time decision: keep going, take it to the nearest service shop, or pull over immediately.
Telematics can help workers stay safe and employers avoid maintenance and insurances costs. The technology can also act as added legal proof that a company did everything in its power to ensure driver training, safety, and vehicle maintenance. More generally, the technology can bolster your company’s reputation for customer relations. As it appears, telematics might be today’s best way to keep drivers safe on the roads.