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The role of Telematics in creating Safety Efficiencies

Safety Management is crucial for every corporate fleet, but it can be like a little stone in the shoe of every fleet manager. Disturbing, hurting, and challenging. And South Africa is no exception to this rule.

“Some corporate customers took for granted that their drivers will be on their best behaviour. They seem to underestimate the impact of poor driver behaviour on costs throughout the fleet management cycle.   Only in the last 2 years or so they have started to consider the impact of how their employees drive”, explained Bianca Kerr, National Fleet Manager at Volkswagen Financial Services South Africa.
But managing behaviour requires high investment in both time and energy. Along with a consistent safety management programme in which top management and various stakeholders and internal departments, such as HR, Legal, Insurance are involved, and the selection of well-equipped vehicles with safety features, the use of tools like telematics can be of added value to create efficiencies when it comes to driver behaviour and safety management.
In South Africa telematics is used by most corporate customers “who want very detailed reports on their vehicle usage and want to be able to track their vehicles live, to see where and how they are being driven.  This is particularly important from a traffic fine and accident management point of view as well”, adds Bianca Kerr. “Certain corporate customers even use this driver behaviour information to score their drivers on an annual basis and then have an award for “driver of the year”.

Responsible driving
“The safety of drivers currently is very much reliant on technologies like this, until such a time that there is enforced legislation to manage this”, explains MiX Telematics. Indeed, “companies managing truck and bus drivers have a critical need to find solutions that encourage responsible driving, and that aim towards reducing fatigue and managing driving hours. In South Africa, there is no legislation that dictates the number of hours a truck driver is permitted to work and as such, this needs to be proactively managed by the business itself. Telematics can provide solutions that enable effective management of hours of service”.
So in this case telematics is replacing the non-existent legislation. And in the future, it will be at the service of Government policies, as explained by Absa Vehicle Management Solutions, partner of ALD International: “The data from the telematics units, together with other information such as maintenance expenditure, fuel usage, fitment of tires and traffic fines, is used by clients to determine how driver behaviour impacts their costs. The use of this information will become even more paramount with the impending introduction of the Administrative Adjudication of Traffic Offences Act (AARTO). This Act will introduce a demerit points system whereby drivers could potentially lose their Driving Licenses for periods of time and Companies could potentially have their operating licenses suspended if the Act is contravened. So once the AARTO is introduced, Driver Behavior Management will become the single most important aspect of fleet management”.

The cost element
For many fleets and corporations, implementing telematics might be seen as a too expensive investment of which the return on investment is doubtful. For sure it has a cost but this is largely offset by the savings it will provide if you use it well and secure consistent follow-up and reporting.
According to MiX Telematics, “Monitoring and improving driver behavior via telematics has a major impact on reducing costs. Fuel cost savings of anything between 7 and 15% are achieved by rectifying driving habits like excessive idling, over-speeding and over-revving”. Maintenance costs are reduced on average by 15% and accidents by 70% and more due to telematics”, says MiX Telematics.
Along with the safety improvement and the costs savings, telematics also helps fleet managers to know the location of their vehicles and drivers in real-time and thus enables journey management with customized reporting in remote areas that lack infrastructure, as is the case in many parts of Africa.

The right provider
And it is not necessary to recall that telematics is also used for the tracking and recovery of stolen vehicles.
So, it’s more than important, for fleet decisions makers, to select the right provider that offers a premium service, a strong back end support, so not necessarily the cheapest provider but rather – if they want tangible return on investment – the provider that complies to their business needs and whose solution is scalable and practical.
Telematics is not the only requirement for corporate customers looking for safety and security for their employees. The bare minimum requirement of corporate customers is that their vehicles are fitted with airbags, alarms, tracking devices and smash & grab, according to Volkswagen Financial Services and Absa Vehicle Management Solutions. 08/09/2016  |  Celine Gilson

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