How does real-time fleet monitoring ensure fleet safety?

fleet safety

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, close to 1 million people lose their lives in fatal road crashes on a daily basis. Of the 30-50 million people who meet with an accident every day, several thousand reports non-fatal injuries, with many having to live with a permanent disability.

The study also highlighted factors such as speeding, harsh braking and cornering, distracted driving, and unsafe vehicles as the leading causes of road traffic collisions. 

Regardless of the reason why an accident or crash happened, not only are the resulting injuries traumatic to the affected individuals, they can also lead to severe financial crises to the families involved, and by extension, operational and economic losses to a company if the injured person was on-duty and driving a company-owned vehicle. 

This also holds true for fleet management businesses. Installation of vehicle tracking systems can be really helpful in improving a fleet’s safety, monitoring unsafe driving behaviors, and identifying potential problems (mechanical malfunctions like faulty brakes, deflated tires, etc. or roadside hazards such as oil spills and standing water) before they happen. This article will explain how fleet monitoring software (FMS) can ensure fleet safety in real-time.

1) Schedule a preventive vehicle maintenance plan. 

Following a proper schedule for inspection, maintenance, and repairs: 

  • reduces wear and tear of critical vehicle components like engine, cooling system, and drivetrain, which in turn, extends the lifespan of a vehicle;
  • improves the vehicle’s fuel economy – the number of miles travelled by a vehicle using a certain amount of fuel. The more distance a truck covers for every gallon of fuel consumed, the more fuel-efficient and cost-saving it is;
  • reduces costs of replacement, which can, otherwise, put a massive dent on the operating budget, if minor problems have had been neglected for a long time;
  • reduces unexpected downtime – if a vehicle has been unavailable for some time due to infrequent or no maintenance, it is highly likely that a fleet manager makes up for the unutilized resource by over-utilizing another vehicle to avert a late delivery situation. Driving a vehicle with an overworked engine is often difficult to steer, and can also be life-threatening;
  • decreases probability (and severity) of a vehicle breakdown, thereby, reducing the likelihood of an injury, and potentially saving many lives. 

With the help of a vehicle tracking system in a good FMS can help a fleet manager track how many miles a vehicle has travelled over time, and based on this information, they can easily set thresholds for vehicle mileage, and schedule custom alerts for pre-trip inspections and maintenance. Routine preventative tasks such as flushing and replenishing fluids, checking the air pressure in tires, and changing the oil after every 3,000 to 5,000 miles are essential in keeping a vehicle in a good, running condition for a longer period of time and saving money at the same time. 

2) Get actionable insights into driving behavior. 

For a fleet manager sitting at a central office, it’s almost impossible to have full knowledge of how the drivers are behaving while they are on the road. 

The video telematics with integrated dashboard camera, GPS tracking APIs, and instant alerts for unsafe driving activity give remote, real-time access to key safety metrics and analytics: 

  • how fast or slow a vehicle travelled on the road, and
  • how often a driver committed any of these reckless driving behaviours: harsh braking, harsh cornering, swerving, speeding, harsh acceleration, aggressive driving, excessive idling

All this information put together on a dashboard enables a fleet manager to: 

  • break down driving behaviour into the “good”, “bad” and, “ugly”; 
  • identify trends of unsafe driving behaviour;
  • spot event flows that could potentially lead to a vehicle breakdown or a collision; 
  • highlight areas of concern in team huddles; 
  • keep a record of driving behaviour in the form of driver safety report card;
  • coach worst-performing drivers on specific dangerous driving habits during personalized training sessions; and
  • incentivize best-performing drivers for exhibiting safe, defensive driving behaviour 

3) Recommend an alternative optimal route or plan of action.

Some fleet monitoring softwares have a built-in functionality to replay the route. With this tool, fleet managers can view each vehicle’s driving history for every trip undertaken, and break it down to the lowest, street-level details to add granularity to the data. In this way, they can get deeper insights into the times of day, and locations on a specific route at which unsafe driving behaviours usually occur; detect rough terrains and unclear paths; and suggest alternative, relatively more optimal routes. 

A route that is simpler to navigate, where the speed limit doesn’t have to change every few miles, and where the driver doesn’t have to worry too much about unexpected road conditions will not only keep a driver from being rash or negligent about road safety rules, it will also result in a fuel-efficient driving behavior. 

In addition, a fleet monitoring software also has communication ports that facilitate live communication between the central hub and the drivers. Using this feature, a driver can escalate any issue or problem he faces during a trip immediately, and seek immediate resolution from the fleet manager. 

4) Create a safe driving policy and ensure strict compliance. 

Tired drivers, overloaded or overworked vehicles, and dangerous conditions can all result in reckless driving behaviours. Besides being used for predictive analytics which allows fleet managers to predict unsafe driving situations, the historical data collated by the business intelligence tools used in a fleet monitoring software can also be used for prescriptive analytics, and help fleet managers chalk out a set of regulations and guidelines.

When the drivers know the company’s policies and procedures about dangerous driving, and the repercussions in a case of a violation, they will be extra careful about breaking the speed limit, braking harshly, driving fast around a corner, accelerating abruptly, and following too closely behind another vehicle. 

To ensure strict adherence to company’s standards, fleet managers can also schedule customized preemptive alerts for drivers with poor driving habits, and rest reminders. This gives rise to a rare breed of happy delivery  personnel who act responsibly, remain compliant, take regular breaks during their shifts, and maintain a good work-life balance. 

In short, investing in a real-time fleet monitoring system with features like video telematics and GPS tracking, makes monitoring driver behavior simpler, easier, and effective, while ensuring fleet safety at the same time.

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