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For fleet management, safety is good for business - why a connected data platform is key

Philip van der Wilt Profile picture for user Philip van der Wilt Samsara April 18, 2024
Summary:
There are many reasons for investing in technology - but safety is the primary factor for commercial fleet companies. Philip van der Wilt of Samsara provides some real-world examples of using connected data to put safety first.

Self drive, autonomous vehicle, truck © Just_Super - Canva
(© Just_Super - Canva)

There are plenty of reasons why commercial fleets invest in connected data platforms. Some are spurred on to improve the operational efficiency of their fleets. Others are motivated to improve productivity and reduce costs. But the number one reason for innovation is to address safety issues.

Last year, for example, UK-based fleet management operating business, M Group Services Plant & Fleet Solutions, revealed it had worked with Samsara and fleet safety solutions provider, Motormax, to deliver the next generation of in-vehicle safety systems to protect drivers and road users.

With 360-degree video coverage of each vehicle, the system not only warns drivers if a lorry is being overloaded — or if cranes, booms or stabilizers are stowed incorrectly — the ‘connected’ part of the solution immediately alerts office-based transport managers via an online portal. M Group said: 

Nothing is so important that we cannot take the time to do it safely.

Our job is to keep the number of road traffic incidents to an absolute minimum because lives and jobs are at stake if we don’t.

Today, the direction of travel is for safety systems to be part of wider-reaching cloud-based platforms that provide pre-emptive, real-time, instant alerts and AI-augmented warnings to drivers.

Good safety is good business

For business leaders, the investment in these next-generation safety solutions is part of a far wider realization that “bad driving is bad for business”.

The increased concerns caused by such behavior have a knock-on effect in terms of increased costs associated with avoidable accidents, more frequent vehicle maintenance and repair, and higher insurance premiums.

There is also the reputational damage to those businesses that have a less-than-satisfactory safety record. Tarnished safety records can damage future growth prospects with customers unwilling to be associated with such firms.

And then there is the human cost in terms of the injuries or fatalities caused by a culture that turns a blind eye to what happens on the road. In other words…good safety is good business. 

Olivia Fagan, Compliance Officer, at family-owned UK logistics firm Fagan & Whalley, explained: 

Safety has always been at the forefront of whatever we do. 

By upgrading to a modern platform it has allowed the business to learn more from the data it collects. And it’s been a “turning point” for the business. Managers now have a more rounded picture of driver distractions allowing them to offer constructive support in real-time.

Connected technology is a driver for change

Thanks to the flow of real-time data, fleet managers can assess how safely someone is driving — everything from speeding to harsh braking — regardless of where they are on the road network. Fagan said: 

We want to continually improve our driver education and safety standards.

That’s a big part of our wider commitment to making UK roads safer and of our mission of continued improvement.

Like more and more businesses up and down the country, Fagan & Whalley is part of a gear shift happening in the logistics and transportation industry. As organizations connect their assets and systems to the cloud, they are using real-time data to centralize their operations around a single platform that enables them to operate more safely, efficiently, and sustainably.

Dron Kyle, Motor Risk Engineer at HDI, Fagan & Whalley’s insurance provider, explained: 

They are doing pretty much everything you can do with telematics.

They’ve embraced telematics, they have a great relationship with their drivers, and they engage with the data, which ticks a big box for insurers such as HDI.

But the technology isn’t just about recording and reporting those incidents. Thanks to features such as in-cab nudges, warnings and alerts, it actively intervenes to stop such behavior from getting out of hand.

Helping insurers assess risk

It focuses on changing people’s behavior and promoting self-coaching to improve the safety performance of every single driver. The technology isn’t there to catch people out. It’s there to help them become better, safer drivers.

This isn’t just good practice. It doesn’t just save lives. It benefits fleets by reducing risk and saving money.

And that’s important for insurers like HDI because it provides them with a more accurate picture of risk across the business. Instead of premiums based on industry averages or accidents-per-mile, risk can be assessed on real-time data underpinned by incident-preventing technology that improves people’s driving. Kyle said:

A large percentage of avoidable incidents is down to driver distraction. 

How do we solve this? Using the dual-facing cameras as a coaching tool and alerting the driver to the distraction gives them an opportunity in real-time to rectify the situation and continue safely on their journey.

And in the event of an accident, these same cameras can provide live camera feeds which, when used along with other road data gathered from vehicle sensors, can prove instantly whether a driver caused an accident or if another motorist was to blame. It could even show if they were the unwitting victim of insurance fraud.

There are many reasons to invest in technology to aid businesses. There are many more business reasons that justify investing in technology on the grounds of safety — not least to make sure employees who work in physical operations go home to their families at the end of a shift. Ultimately, that’s all that matters.

And if this approach also helps reduce risk across a business, then so much the better.

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