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Fleet Safety – Determining Risk Per Mile Driven

Fleets have a tremendous opportunity to lower accident rates as well as improve operating efficiency by implementing a comprehensive driver safety program. Software solutions made specifically for commercial vehicles ensure safe driving and preventive maintenance initiatives are easier to implement and more effective than ever before. A telematics program can be a simple way to gain valuable insight into your fleet — and yields a speedy and ongoing ROI.

Telematics based services are rapidly expanding beyond standard operational services to also cover more behavioral aspects. This enables fleets and insurance companies to gain a deeper insight into both very tangible and less tangible areas that have a significant price tag associated.

With a strong correlating driver risk identification system in place, fleets and insurance companies can gain valuable insight that will assist in accurate policy pricing, targeted coaching of poor driving behaviors and identification of employee behaviors that have a negative business impact.

Deployment of the most sophisticated “risk-based” driver behavior scoring engine will deliver a more accurate identification of risk and a more actionable path for correction. Implementing “big data” back-end analysis and necessary data compensations applied to every second of driver performance will have a significant impact on driver safety, risk underwriting, risk mitigation, and claims settlement efficiency.

Driver behavior data is collected from standard telematics devices that are already installed or are installed specifically for this purpose. The additional cost to collect the driver behavior data is a small increment over standard GPS tracking solutions; however, the potential gain is significant. By using continuous vehicle motion analysis, telematics-supported driver behavior data provides a driver’s risk per mile driven. This level of granular data can now rank drivers on aggressiveness, distraction, general driving tendencies and specific risky driving events and come up with an overall driver safety score.

Having an accurate picture of driver behavior status is the prerequisite to effectively improve behavior and lower exposure to risk. There is a clear link between a well-managed vehicle fleet and profitability. Employees injured in a motor vehicle accident can have a negative effect to a company by incurring costs such as lost production, workers compensation, replacement costs such as new staff and equipment, insurance premiums/increases and a potential burden of civil lawsuits. But the huge financial burden and human cost of road crashes goes far beyond your workplace.

In 2013 the NSC documented the estimated cost of motor vehicle deaths was $267.5 billion. With more than 90 percent of crashes caused by human error (per the National Safety Council or NSC) creating a Fleet Safety plan will help achieve a desired level of safety.

Unmanaged drivers vary greatly in their safe driving skills. Even good drivers drift into poor safety habits over time. Positively impacting a fleet’s exposure to related risk must begin with identifying and positively modifying driving behaviors.

In the U.S. there are:

  • 10 accidents every minute.
  • Five vehicle-related fatalities every hour.
  • One-quarter of a trillion dollars is spent annually on collision claims.

As settlement and legal costs continue to escalate, the costs to fleets are tremendous and often avoidable through improved driver behavior. The greatest reductions in risk are made by intervening with the drivers that are farthest from the desired driving skill level. It remains important to give all drivers continuous feedback regarding their status and changes in driving behaviors.

All drivers represent a certain degree of risk and an opportunity for improved driving. As well as understanding the skill sets of the fleet drivers, every driver and manager of the fleet should understand the documented expectation of what good driving looks like. Only when the desired model is presented, can deviations from the desired norm be acted upon.

Only by defining the “desired norm” of driving behavior, can the fleet document variances from the norm and act accordingly to improve these variances. The goal of improving driver behavior is to have each driver execute his or her driving responsibilities at a desired level of competency.

Fleets carrying passengers have traditionally been leaning towards video based systems because they are very efficient in accident reconstruction and claims settlement. Those video systems have also been used for driver behavior monitoring. In general they work quite well, but are by nature event based systems and really only target the top 10% of poor drivers. The rest of the drivers ‘fly under the radar’.

A more elegant system would be one that combines the best of the two worlds: accurate driver scoring of the entire population and continuous video recording for liability purposes. In the recent years, there has been a plethora of low cost continuous video recorders brought to the market. Combine those with a standard telematics solution and you have a low cost solution with all the benefits.

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