The use of monitoring systems in aviation has been common practice for many years. ‘Black box’ technology, as it is often referred to is now commonplace in road vehicles too.
An in-vehicle monitoring system (IVMS) describes any electronic device that is used to track, assess and report on vehicle activity which in turn reflects on the driver’s behavior Whether it is a sophisticated telematics system that is fitted to the vehicle itself, a GPS, or simply a smart phone app, the objectives are the same:
to reduce incidents on the road and
deliver efficiency in road transport operations.
Increasingly vehicle manufacturers are fitting new vehicles with this technology as standard and in some countries, it is becoming mandatory.
IVMS, also known as telematics or on-board units, are available for both private motorists and for companies with a fleet of vehicles. When used privately, it is often in the context of identifying areas for improvement for inexperienced younger drivers and insurers offer reduced premiums to drivers who use such systems.
Monitoring improves driving skills
Studies have shown that vehicle telematics helps to reduce incident rates.*
A 60% reduction in speeding events
A reduction in high potential, catastrophic, major or serious accident rate ranging from 29% to 100%
Encourages use of the safety belt
Identifies poor driver behavior such as sudden braking or over revving, harsh acceleration and speeding*
Monitoring saves money
There are significant cost savings to be made by monitoring driver behavior, not only in the costs associated with a reduction in vehicle accidents (insurance, legal and vehicle replacement), but also savings in fuel consumption and environmental emissions through smooth driving.
This smooth driving results in less strain on both the engine and the tyres, which in turn leads to less wear and tear, reduced maintenance costs and longer vehicle life. Insurance premiums may also be reduced when driving behavior improves.
Other Benefits Within a company context, IVMS can help focus on the most at-risk drivers and can improve public perception of the company through better driver behavior.
It can help to identify trends, for example, if motorists are driving too fast then this could be due to pressures placed on them to meet demanding time frames, meaning they are not provided with sufficient time to make deliveries safely.
Tracking and Reporting
Depending on the level of sophistication of the electronic device, it records data on when, where and how a vehicle is driven. For example:
Journey start and end time
Acceleration and braking pattern
Seat belt use
The scores for each metric can be weighted to reflect the safe driving priorities and company policy. A base line of ‘current’ driving performance is set first so that results can be compared meaningfully and there is always a tolerance or buffer zone to allow for human judgement and error.
Transport companies invest in driver assessments and training to improve the efficiency and safety of their fleet and business; this usually results in all drivers receiving the same training whether needed or not. By using IVMS to continually monitor driver behavior, it is possible to identify which drivers require additional training and the areas of training they require; which allows the business to conduct targeted training for the drivers that need it most. This ensures the maximum benefit is realized from the training and quickly and effectively moves all drivers to the highest skill level
It’s the results that count
The data is analysed to build an overall picture of driver behavior and identify high risk driving. For example, harsh braking is often an indicator of distracted or fatigued driving.
Within any company the management assesses results based on the information they can gather from their operations. Using IVMS appropriately can produce meaningful reports that can be delivered in a variety of ways:
Online – web reports that can be easily accessed
Real time on-board alerts (for example an audio notification if a driver exceeds a speed limit or alerts direct to a driver supervisor allowing prompt intervention to be taken in a proactive manner)
Management reports that assess fleet and/or vehicle utilization and efficiency.
What’s important is that everyone understands what the results mean and how they can be used to improve driving and the transport operation.
As the overall aim is to reduce incidents through improved driving, and therefore driver efficiency, then an appropriate reward and recognition system should be devised and delivered. Many organisations report on overall company performances so that no individual feels singled out.
Make it a success
Communication is key – it’s important to be clear on goals and expectations, to demonstrate how it fits within an overall safety program. It is recommended to, involve the drivers so they do not see this as a big brother tool but rather see it as a support tool that helps them enhance their driving skills, recognizes good performance and rewards it accordingly. One-off erratic driving is only to be expected; it’s a regular pattern of inefficient or hazardous driving that is of concern.
In-vehicle monitoring systems can help everyone to become more conscious of driving, understand how we to improve their driving and become conscious of their behavior on the road.
An investment in an IVMS device helps save lives, reduces costs, reduce fuel consumption, can protect your company’s reputation and increase efficiency.