For most in today’s fleet industry, when someone mentions the topic of fleet management, we immediately think about fleet telematics.  This typically equates to monitoring and improving vehicle efficiency and driver productivity.  Virtually every company employing fleet telematics leverages this technology to track the location of vehicles, optimize routes and improve fuel economy.  But this mindset is beginning to change.  
Fleet managers are starting to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the financial savings associated with a focus on improving driver behavior.  And vehicle telematics is helping organizations better realize this perspective.  Now supervisors can directly tie driver behavior to real costs.  With vehicle telematics, fleet managers can easily track compliance with a company’s established rules for safe driving.  And with the right software, a company’s most unsafe drivers can be identified and assigned the appropriate corrective action such as a manager-employee coaching session or remedial training.
The use of vehicle telematics has been found to produce numerous benefits for fleet and safety managers, including:

  • Fuel savings of up to 22% or more from reduced idling time, less aggressive driving and better route management (1);
  • As much as a 30% decrease in the number of accidents (1);
  • Increased operational efficiency by at least 10 percent through improved maintenance schedules, improved job scheduling, and fewer vehicles being out of service for costly repairs (1);
  • Elimination of unauthorized vehicle use, saving some fleets up to $900 per vehicle in the first year (2).

As you can see, driver behavior serves a major role in sound cost management for fleets.  And vehicle telematics, when properly applied, can enable companies to achieve the above results in a systematic way via the following:

Fuel Savings:

Vehicle telematics helps to eliminate excess consumption of fuel and unauthorized vehicle usage by monitoring driver performance and activity.  Supervisors are notified anytime there is a deviation from the predefined norm, allowing them to intervene with the driver and correct the issues in a timely manner.  Sometimes, the deviation is caused by a different driver operating your fleet vehicle.  But more often, it relates to speeding.  To illustrate, monitoring speeding and correcting deficiencies has proven to reduce gas consumption by 33% in highway driving situations and up to 5% in city driving scenarios.

Reducing Accidents = Insurance Savings:

Insurance companies are always looking for ways to minimize exposure and installing telematics in fleet vehicles goes a long way toward serving this purpose.  Organizations that leverage the data by focusing their attention on improving unsafe driving conditions have seen reductions of accident rates up to 30%.  Moreover, they have been able to maintain and even improve that performance in successive years with continued use of the telematics devices.  Since one of the riskiest activities for any company is the driving of fleet vehicles, successful management of this exposure regularly equates to lower premiums than what their competitors pay.  This cost savings makes a direct and positive impact on the bottom line.

Improved Performance and Maintenance

Fleet telematics solutions send alerts based on mileage, engine use or time.  This information combined with improved driving habits helps fleet managers develop advanced maintenance schedules that can extend the overall lifecycle of a vehicle by several thousand miles but also help lengthen time intervals between routine maintenance procedures for brakes, oil changes and so on.  It goes without saying that vehicles that are properly maintained and serviced are less likely to develop mechanical problems that can delay the movement of goods and people.

Eliminating the Unknowns

Often organizations don’t discover that their fleet vehicles are being used improperly until something bad happens.  Companies are taking the upper hand on this issue by outfitting their vehicles with telematics technology to ensure they know what their vehicles are being used for and when they’re being operated.  No company executive wants to see a picture of his mangled company vehicle featured in the news.

The Key to Success

Fundamental to all the potential benefits of telematics is the role people play in outcomes.  Companies must be prepared to act on the data they are provided to ensure safe and effective utilization of their fleets.  Drivers need to welcome the feedback to ensure they improve their behavior and keep not only their vehicle operation safe but also that of their surroundings.  When the dust settles, vehicle telematics is a tool that is made effective only when all employees of an organization work together to deliver results.

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