In addition, incidents on the road can be expensive – even if it’s an incident such as speeding rather than a full-on crash. There may be damage to the vehicle, disappointed customers, wasted stock and boosted insurance premiums. Plus, if the press takes an interest then there may also be reputational damage to take into account.

Telematics can help to improve driver behaviour and prevent accidents from happening. A London-based waste management company recently reduced its insurance claim rate by 60% in a single year by implementing a telematics strategy.

So what is this technology, and how could it help your fleet?

Telematics: Measuring driving performance

A telematics device is a small gadget that is fitted to a vehicle to record data about its performance. Data gathered might include speed, acceleration, braking, lane discipline and idling.

Recording this data gives fleet managers knowledge that can help improve fleet performance. It might be that a particular route is especially problematic for drivers, or that one driver needs some training on safe acceleration and braking. Perhaps the data might reveal that drivers are spending too long on the road, or not taking adequate breaks.

These small details build up to give the fleet manager a picture of the risks taken by their drivers each day. By monitoring and improving driver behaviour, the fleet’s accident rate can be greatly reduced.

Case study: a 60% drop in insurance claims

A waste management company in London gradually installed telematics in its fleet vehicles. Between 2009 and 2014, when no telematics were used, the annual accident rate was around 96 per year, resulting in a loss of over £250,000.

In 2014, dash cameras were installed in all vehicles. That year’s accident rate fell to 39 and a total cost of just over £110,000. In 2015 the company adopted full telematics devices as well as the cameras. There were just 11 accidents at a cost of £40,000. In other words, within two years the accident rate fell almost nine-fold and accident costs dropped around 84%.

The company’s Managing Director said: “Improving the safety of our logistics operations is a core part of our business strategy and this system has played an important role in helping to improve driver behaviour by providing the evidence of the key areas to work on, which can be tailored for each driver.”

Giving drivers an incentive to improve

A common response to the idea of telematics is that it’s all a little bit ‘Big Brother’. Won’t your fleet drivers resist the idea that they are under constant monitoring? If care is taken to implement telematics in the right way, drivers will also embrace the new technology.

For example, some companies use gamification to improve driver motivation and morale. The data collected by telematics devices is fed into a kind of driver league table in which colleagues can compete – either for plain glory, or for a prize – potentially an extra day’s leave. Combining drivers into teams also works well.

Ultimately, improving driver behaviour reduces the risk to their own health and safety as well as helping to improve your company’s bottom line. Telematics just helps to highlight areas in need of improvement – how much could it save you?