01 Nov 2021
How safety telematics can improve driver behaviour

How safety telematics can improve driver behaviour

The use of telematics in vehicles is nothing new – it’s been used operationally and in GPS’ for a number of years.

However, telematics is now being used to improve driver safety and behaviour by giving real time feedback – and it can have a number of positive outcomes for businesses, from reducing the number of accidents to decreasing fuel and maintenance costs.

And the ability to give real-time feedback is important because it can coach and train on the spot, rather than provide feedback after the event.

"We’ve evaluated a number of telematics systems over the years," says Ken Arthur, QBE National Risk Manager, Commercial Motor, "and from our perspective it’s vital the system provides that instantaneous feedback, because it can have a direct and immediate impact on the driver’s behaviour on the road."

Dougie Portwood, Director of Strategic Programme Management at GreenRoad, a telematics provider says, "Safety telematics is based on the principle of identifying the mistakes drivers make and helping them understand what it is they’re doing, as well as providing the tools to be able to identify exceptions and create interventions."

The GreenRoad system identifies driver behaviour over five key categories: acceleration, braking, cornering, lane handling and direction change. Within these categories there are approximately 150 different types of safety incidents that are recognised and reported.

A traffic light system in the driver’s peripheral vision provides real-time visual feedback, alerting them to their actions in the moment. The information is also collated in reports for managers and internal teams to use.

Changing driver behaviour by measuring what matters

While driver education and training has been a constant topic of discussion for businesses that rely heavily on driver activity, the ability to measure is also important. However, that measurement has usually happened in retrospect – for example, the amount of accidents, and volume and value of insurance claims.

Traffic moving on the road at twilightAs well as real-time feedback, safety telematics can provide a current, objective safety score based on the driver’s actions across the five key categories.

Over time, individual traits can be identified and can be used as a basis from which to measure improvement.

Of course, you’re not going to change behaviour and reduce incidents overnight just by implementing safety telematics – it needs the buy-in from people across the business as part of an overall safety culture, and continual discussion, measurement and coaching.

"It can’t be a set and forget implementation," says Robert DiPerdomenico, QBE National Risk Manager, Commercial Motor. "So whatever areas you’re targeting and would like to see improve, you need to be able to measure the impact of that objectively, and focus on the behaviour you want to change."

The type of change you want to see in your drivers is likely to be nuanced and treating the immediately obvious may not rectify the issue – which is where advanced telematics can reap rewards.

"For example," says Portwood, "you might be raising awareness that speeding is an issue that you want to reduce. However, speed is not just doing 60km on a 50km road – it’s driving at the correct speed for the situation, which is where the information around braking and cornering becomes incredibly valuable.

"By having that feedback you can turn 'red' events into 'orange' and 'orange into green', and over time there’s a very visible change in behaviour."

By making safety on the roads a regular topic of conversation and focal point for the business – and establishing the wider context – employees are more likely to see the business benefits as opposed to viewing it as a Big Brother-style imposition.

Measuring the return on investment of vehicle telematics

By implementing technology such as safety telematics, the ultimate objective is to reduce the number of accidents your drivers have on the road.

This, in turn, can reduce vehicle and employee downtime, the number of insurance claims – and the value of the claims – the business is making. And, potentially, in time, reducing the cost of premiums.

It can increase the perception of your business out on the roads, too. After all, a safely-driven vehicle with your name branded across it creates a far better impression than a dangerously-driven vehicle.

While all of these things are important, and can provide a strong return on investment in the longer term, driver education and real-time feedback can provide some immediate payback, too.

"With real-time feedback, fuel consumption will very often decrease, because the vehicle is being driven more efficiently," says Portwood.

"Traditionally, on the larger vehicles, we see a five to eight percent fuel difference, and on the smaller vehicles we typically see 10 to 15 percent, sometimes more. This is because we’re getting the driver to plan ahead, and therefore react earlier, so we’re starting to see better regenerative braking."

While vehicles today are equipped with all types of technology, it doesn’t always lead to a decrease in accidents.

By equipping your vehicles with safety telematics, and educating drivers about the why, you can potentially gain serious rewards right across the business and help your employees be safer on the roads.

Ken, Robert and Dougie will be exploring this topic further in November's Q Academy webinar ‘Improving Driver Behaviour Through Telematics’.

For more, explore our Q Risk Insights or take a look at some of our useful resources especially for brokers. .