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Creating a crash-free culture among mobile workers

For any business with mobile workers, getting drivers home safely each day is a primary goal. Each year in Australia, there are more than 600,000 road crashes, 200,000 reported injuries and 1,300 people killed. 

To drivers and their families, an injury crash is devastating. Beyond the human suffering they cause, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) estimates the costs of road traffic injury to the community at $15 billion per annum, equivalent to around 2.5 percent of the gross national product. Yet most of this loss could be prevented by tackling dangerous driving.

Telematics (the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics for application in vehicles) is helping reduce costs and increase productivity, and is one of the smartest investments organisations can make in technology to create a safe-driving culture. Drivers face ongoing pressure to deliver goods or services on schedule, while also dealing with roadway congestion and various distractions. The majority of drivers admit to eating or using a mobile phone when behind the wheel, and about a quarter of drivers will read or take care of personal grooming while driving. All drivers are affected by the safety implications that these distractions cause.

Studies consistently show that the top contributors to crashes are both external distractions and driving behaviour, including driving too fast for the conditions, speeding around curves and illegal manoeuvres. While managers are limited in what they can do about external distractions, driving behaviour is something they can influence.

Many fleet managers create programs that bring together various safety-related communications, incentives and training to promote a safe-driving culture. Various consulting groups work with managers to assess an organisation’s crash history, identify improvement targets and build a new personality for the business—creating a culture that highly values safety, or a “crash-free culture”.

Reducing risk by changing corporate culture

Investing in such a corporate culture can pay off threefold: it helps drivers to stay safe, it reduces crash costs, and minimises risk to an organisation. There is a belief among some employers that they do not need to worry about managing occupational road risk if their employees drive their own vehicles, or if a leasing company handles its fleet. However, irrespective of whom the vehicle belongs to, management of occupational road risk remains the responsibility of the employer.

Creating a crash-free culture involves spreading a “safety virus” across an organisation; this means that from board leadership down to each driver, the importance of driver safety is understood to be as much of a mission-critical part of the organisation’s DNA as basic functions like marketing, accounting and customer service.

It also requires a serious commitment to create a crash-free culture, but when coupled with an efficient driver safety technology solution, it can deliver a remarkable return on investment (ROI) and significant long-term savings.

ROI of telematics is a hot topic 

Aggressive drivers are a factor for excessive fuel use, increased maintenance costs and higher accident rates. Driver safety solutions can offer insight into aggressive manoeuvres such as hard acceleration, hard braking, hard turns and excessive speed so that fleet managers can identify and train drivers that put their safety and their companies at risk. It also provides the driver with real-time feedback about their driving behaviour so they can make immediate changes to their driving style. Over time this helps them learn better driving techniques that reduces fuel consumption and having safer drivers helps protect a company’s reputation.

In Australia, we see organisations from a variety of sectors and different sizes already using telematics technology to great effect and many industries are already strongly benefitting from deploying a solution. In fact, a recent industry report from the Aberdeen Group has revealed that customers generally show significant cost savings after the implementation of Trimble fleet management tools, including a staggering drop of 22 percent in fuel consumption and 25 percent in idle times. Customers also experience significant reductions in vehicle and operating costs (21 percent), daily mileage (31 percent) and improvements in fleet utilisation (32 percent.)

Which solution is right for your business?

Telematics can be a powerful ‘enabling’ technology to help fleets take the next step in productivity improvements and driver safety. Companies with fleets know that they can’t sit still and should embrace new technology and fresh ideas for their businesses. The question is which is the right way to go?

When choosing a telematics system, it should be ensured that all components are truly interoperable and that the system is easily scalable, both to meet today’s requirements and to allow for future needs which may include a larger fleet, more varied or complex field operations or additional capabilities. This is why it often makes good sense to select an integrated, full-suite solution provider, rather than cherry pick individual components that may or may not work efficiently together as needs evolve.

Many businesses start with a basic solution for a specific aspect of their mobile operation. After gaining experience in its use and realising its benefits, they often decide to expand the solution to incorporate other, more comprehensive work management capabilities. That’s why it is important that the initial solution is capable of such expansion to protect the initial investment and training, without needing to start over.

Together, the improvements in safety and operating efficiency from telematics technology can positively affect an organisation’s insurance costs, reduce vehicle operating and maintenance expenses, improve customer service and profitability, improve drivers’ quality of life, and elevate an organisation’s image. Plus, extending beyond any monetary value is the benefit of your drivers arriving home safely at the end of each day.

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Tom Scahill

Tom Scahill

Tom Scahill is business area director, Australia and New Zealand, Field Service Management, Transport and Logistics Divisions, Trimble Navigation.

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