When done effectively, driver monitoring programs can help improve driver behavior and reduce accidents. Typically, these programs are centered on toll-free safety hotlines that report incidents of improper, as well as safe and courteous driving actions. Using this information, fleets can zero-in and identify specific driving problems, providing the opportunity to take steps to correct them.
Most driver monitoring programs tend to work in a similar manner. Vehicles get a safety decal with the vehicle’s distinguishing number and a toll-free number to encourage motorists and others to report driving complaints or compliments. Some decals also include a Web site address to report driving behavior. These decals are placed on the rear of the vehicle.
Vehicle driver incident reports are recorded and checked for accuracy. Then they are organized and compiled into easy-to-read-and-use reports and provided via e-mail or fax to fleet personnel. Along with vehicle incident reports, these include report statistics with charts, driver history reports and incident summaries by drivers. Reports are available through password-protected Internet access.
Some driver monitoring Web sites provide fleet personnel with the ability to “slice and dice” incident data to understand key trends, recurring driver issues and location of higher-risk operations.
There are driver monitoring programs that, when an incident report is received, notify fleet personnel by a telephone call, an alert on a handheld device or an e-mail. The notification contains key information about the incident, and some have a recording of the actual call.
Safety hotline reports can be used by fleet managers to discuss safe driving practices and encourage consistent proper handling of vehicles. Depending upon the severity of the report, drivers may need coaching or training to help them modify their driving behavior.
The fact is, risk-taking behavior leads to accidents. If a fleet can identify risk-taking behaviors and take action to assist drivers, accident rates can be reduced. Driver monitoring programs provide the opportunity to change a driver’s behavior before it results in a costly accident.
According to a leading driver monitoring company, 80 percent of drivers never receive a complaint, 10 percent will receive one incident report and the remaining 10 percent of drivers receive two or more incident reports. Drivers who get multiple complaints are at much higher risk to be in a crash.
Companies that have been using driver monitoring programs for some time have also benefited from lower insurance costs due to fewer accidents and subsequent claims. Some driver monitoring programs have arrangements with insurance companies that pay for part or the entire cost of the program.
Driver monitoring programs are evolving along with technology. Monitoring is being incorporated with fleet management. Take, for example, Mimamori, Isuzu Motors’ full-scale telematics fleet management system, which I had the opportunity to experience recently. Designed exclusively for commercial vehicles, the system provides real-time access to driving and operational status. It also enables two-way, interactive interface between the vehicle and fleet management through the comprehensive use of GPS and cellular phone based systems and information and telecommunication technology (ICT) services. The system is Web-based, and individual vehicle and driver information can be retrieved instantaneously.
The Mimamori system monitors and records a variety of vehicle operation and performance functions. Among these are fuel consumption, engine emissions levels, location and driving patterns. Also observed and documented are such driving conditions as vehicle speed, gear use, engine rpm preceding gear shifts, acceleration and braking behavior.
The system has the ability to issue a variety of reports, analyzing such operational data as miles traveled, total fuel consumption, average speed, average fuel economy and engine emissions. Fleets can then use this information to improve their management efficiencies through fuel saving and safe driving, with a commensurate reduction in the environmental impact of its trucks.
With regard to safety, the system advises the driver of unsafe conditions with both voice and LCD message alerts. BI
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David Kolman is a veteran truck communicator, keynote speaker and long-haul trucker. Commissioned as an Honorary Colonel on the Kentucky governor’s staff for his work promoting traffic safety, he actively participates in trade associations and reports news and information about the trucking industry for broadcasting and print media.
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