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AfMA’s professional development forum in Melbourne on Thursday was a great opportunity to consider the benefits of telematics for organisations of all sizes.

Teletrac Navman’s Chris L’Ecluse set the scene early by getting delegates to start thinking about their driving habits on a broader scale. Are we really as safe as we think we are, or have we unintentionally let bad habits slip into our driving over a period of time?

“Driving is something that most people think they are good at – but there is no perfect driver,” Chris said.

“Road trauma doesn’t discriminate, and for the most part it is largely preventable.”

With new data showing that road trauma is on track to become the 5th highest cause of death by 2030, Chris’ message was a timely reminder that fleet managers need to take active steps to monitor safety and risk. Central to creating a culture of safe driving within your organisation is getting that message through to your own drivers directly.

Chris L’Ecluse addressing the room at Melbourne’s Crown Towers

“Generally when telematics operators work with companies they talk to executives rather than the actual drivers,” he said.

“If we can engage with the driver pool at the earliest stage, we can remove many of those objections and get them on side.”

The ever-evolving technology of telematics in recent years has provided organisations with a wealth of knowledge in relation to their driver habits. But what use is all that data if you aren’t analysing it effectively?

One such organisation that has managed to put Chris’ suggestions into practice is Life Without Barriers (LWB). The non-for-profit organisation has had many successful wins through the implementation of telematics, namely in improved safety, reduced costs and better communications with drivers.

The figures for LWB as recently as 2014 were staggering. Crash rates were notably high in all states, with the Northern Territory recording an accident every 17,000km! Cars were being misplaced, stolen and damaged and no one had any record or log as to why this was happening. Fast forward three years and it’s a very different story.

“Over time we’ve had a reduction in our fleet size, our accidents are down, and we have improved billing and maintenance,” LWB Fleet Manager Nathan Reynolds said.

“At Life Without Barriers we build relationships, we are imaginative, we are respectful, we are responsive and we are courageous – and these values extend to our fleet operations as well.”

A key reason for that shift has been through the provision of real-time connections with drivers – in particular, bad ones. As part of their telematics commitment, the LWB team is in regular contact with speeding drivers the moment they put their foot down too hard on the pedal – an act that is helping to prevent high-speed road trauma before it happens.

“Now whenever any of our vehicles goes over 110km/h and then hit 120km/h we automatically send a message to the driver to slow down. When they are over 130km/h, I immediately get a SMS and call the driver directly,” Nathan said.

Nathan admits that every organisation will inevitably come across bad drivers from time to time, but the benefit of telematics is that when monitored effectively fleet managers have the knowledge at their disposal to educate, discipline or remove those drivers from their operations.

If your organisation isn’t already using telematics, it is definitely time to consider introducing them. Improved safety on our roads can never be understated, and the ability to monitor, record  and ultimately improve driver habits is a massive tool that every fleet manager needs to be taking advantage of.

Chris & Nathan’s 5-easy tips to improve safety within your organisation

  1. Set goals with your drivers rather than having generic KPI’s in place.
  2. Create a competitive culture towards safe driving among your employees.
  3. Provide rewards for your best drivers to recognise them and their efforts to improve safety.
  4. Make sure you have a proper data analyst or a good accountant so that you get the most of the data that you are tracking.
  5. Commit to a telematics provider that will grow and adapt as your fleet needs change over time.

AfMA runs regular Professional Development Forums right around Australia throughout the year. For more details on these key networking and educational events, please click here.