Onboard driver safety technology is one of the fastest changing aspects of fleet management and it’s affecting everything from accident reconstruction, to insurance rates, to safety policies. Two of the biggest names in vehicle technology are event data recorders and telematics. Knowing what technology is on-board your vehicle and how it can be used with regards to your business is an important aspect of managing a fleet. Below are some of the top safety concerns and the technologies that are influencing them.
1. Crash Reconstruction:
The black box or Event Data Recorder (EDR) is one of the best-known piece of driver technology on board a vehicle and an important piece of technology to be aware of. The EDR tracks:
- Vehicle speed
- Engine speed
- Break status
- Throttle position
- Seatbelt status
- Break status
Currently, 96% of all new light passenger vehicles have EDRs. According to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration by Sept. 1, 2014, 100% of all new light passenger vehicles must have EDRs. More importantly all of the information obtained from an EDR is entirely admissible in the case of an accident.
Already, there have been a number of cases in which a driver has been deemed reckless because of the information obtained from an EDR. For example, the 2005 New Jersey case in which an EDR showed that a driver traveling at 76 MPH has applied the brakes less than a second before a crash. In this case a jury concluded that the driver was reckless and the company liable.
As this driver safety technology continues to advance, accident reconstruction will become more and more important. This means that it’s more important than ever to ensure your drivers’ safety on the road.
2. Fleet Insurance Coverage:
Another branch of on board technology is telematics. Telematics includes:
- On-board diagnostics
- 3G and other wireless systems
Several insurance companies like LMAC, Travelers, Zurich and The Hartford, are beginning to offer telematics programs to fleets that offer a discount for safe drivers. These companies will measure metrics like speeding, excessive acceleration, aggressive braking, cornering, lane changing, and risky behavior relative to surrounding traffic, and offer up to a 40% discount for improved safety score.
This could be good or bad news for fleet managers. These discounts are contingent on using the technology to actually improve on driver safety. For example, a business that identifies consistent speeders, but never uses the technology to address their drivers’ behavior will not see a discount.
3. Company Safety Policies:
You can’t be in the car with your drivers all the time, but telematics add another layer of accountability for your drivers. A wireless fleet management system provides a number of tools to help reduce risky behaviors like speeding, hard braking, and aggressive accelerating. With telematics you can:
- Track the speed and location of every vehicle in your fleet
- Track safety belt engagement
- Monitor unauthorized vehicle use
- Set automatic speeding alerts and reports to identify repeat offenders
- Set customized reporting thresholds for other company safety policy violations.
95% of fleet drivers follow their company’s safety policies; it’s the other 5% that cause problems. Fleet telematics give you a close-up view of your driver’s safety habits. Just having a company safety policy that holds drivers accountable through telematics has been shown to improve driver safety on the road. In addition, all of this data also allows you to coach, and when necessary discipline, specific drivers based on their unique driving habits.
Being aware of the technology on board your vehicles will keep ahead of the game on managing a safe, effective fleet. Be on the look out for a discussion of the latest driver safety technology releases and how you can demonstrate your commitment to diver safety with a plan to integrate all of this new technology.