Put Your Drivers in Safe Hands
BY JENNY SHINER
MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, GPS INSIGHT
Telematics is often thought of as a technology for gathering current vehicle and equipment locations, but the benefits go far beyond tracking asset whereabouts for construction businesses. Telematics provides essential tools to help businesses tackle their most significant challenges, like improving driver safety fleetwide.
Crashes on the job have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on employees, their coworkers and families and their employers. To help reduce risk for their mobile workforces, construction businesses are turning to telematics to enhance their safety protocols by using the information to improve driver policies, monitor driver behavior, and maintain safer vehicles.
WRITE DRIVER POLICIES WITH TELEMATICS DATA
Written safety policies are the foundation of a safety program. After all, how will drivers know what’s expected by your business if you don’t present it to them?
Before holding employees accountable with telematics data, it’s important to lay some groundwork as to how, when and why the information will be put to use. Putting regulations in place around the use of telematics so employees are aware from the beginning will increase their acceptance overall.
When introducing new driver policies that incorporate telematics, fleet managers can follow these best practices to obtain the best results:
Transparency - Clearly present the use of telematics data to measure performance and monitor compliance. When the time comes to hold employees accountable, you could receive backlash about tracking their vehicles without their knowledge.
Define Consequences – To ensure policies are effective, it’s important to define clear consequences if drivers do not follow policies. Penalties might range from strikes that lead to loss of driving privileges to termination. Whatever they may be, drivers should be made aware before ever operating a company vehicle.
Embrace Safety Companywide - Creating a culture of safety is key to the broader acceptance of the policy. Every level of the organization should embrace safety policies from executives, managers and supervisors to every driver in the company.
Once safety protocols are put in place, fleet managers can start using telematics to monitor and correct unsafe driving when it happens to proactively improve driver safety.
STOP UNSAFE DRIVING WHEN IT’S HAPPENING
Speeding. Harsh stops. Rapid acceleration. Cornering. You are likely familiar with these driver behaviors, but what’s the real impact of unsafe driving? The impact is that your drivers may cause a fatal accident if they speed when running late, make harsh stops when distracted, or rapidly accelerate in traffic. Along with ensuring employee safety, it is also important for your business to ensure the safety of the residents in your community.
Telematics systems are used to improve driver behavior by monitoring metrics such as drive time, unauthorized usage, idle time, hard braking, rapid acceleration and speeding. Speeding is one of the leading causes of accidents on our roadways. Telematics enables fleet managers to monitor the speed of each of the vehicles, in real-time, and to determine if any are traveling at unlawful speeds.
To correct unsafe driver behavior, it’s recommended to provide ongoing performance feedback with the data gathered from the telematics system.
PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Along with day-to-day driver safety, another challenge construction businesses face is preparing for the unexpected, like when a natural disaster hits. If employees are working in the field, especially in a widespread service area, when a natural disaster hits, your business has a responsibility to locate these employees and ensure they reach safety. Pinpointing all vehicle locations and notifying every employee to evacuate on a mass scale proves to be a significant challenge, but it’s a necessary one to prevent injuries and fatalities.
MAINTAIN SAFER VEHICLES
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 43 percent of critical pre-crash events that cause vehicle accidents are attributed to tire failure.
Staying on top of preventative services, like tire rotations, is one of the easiest ways to prevent accidents with telematics. The software’s maintenance module will automatically track runtime and odometer readings, then send reminders when services like tire rotations and balancing, oil changes, emissions testing, or any other types of services are due to be completed. It is recommended to send maintenance alerts to management and drivers to ensure vehicles and equipment receive necessary services as soon as possible.
Although automated maintenance reminders are effective, a service may still slip through the cracks here and there. To proactively monitor overdue services, management should get in the habit of viewing scheduled maintenance reports. These reports should be available on-demand or can be automated by email on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Any outstanding services will be flagged in red on the report so managers can take action and get them completed right away.
IMPROVING SAFETY IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND IMPLEMENTING
At the end of the day, when considering the objectives of a telematics implementation, no reasoning is quite as important as increasing safety for employees and the general public on the roadways. Using telematics as part of a fleetwide safety initiative will drive the program miles forward while providing construction businesses with several other impactful benefits.
Jenny Shiner is the marketing communications manager for GPS Insight. She graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in communication and is responsible for external marketing communication for all business segments that GPS Insight targets. Contact GPS Insight for more information on telematics.