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telematics pros and cons

The Pros & Cons of Telematics for Fatigue Management

Novated Leasing

Pending Chain of Responsibility (CoR) regulation changes are a useful trigger for thinking about your organisation’s HR policies.

CoR changes are further tightening an employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of any employee driving a vehicle as part of their employment.

Are your HR policies up-to-date when it comes to your employee mobility practices? Do they cover all the requisite regulations and laws? Are your policies frequently reviewed and updated (if necessary) to include the latest safety standards? And do your organisation’s HR guidelines meet with employee expectations?

Fatigue management is one of many considerations when it comes to keeping employees safe when they are driving. In recent times, the use of telematic devices to monitor driver safety has increased in popularity with fleet and HR managers but, while telematics has helped to stimulate improved productivity and reduced downtime, there’s a number of important considerations that come along with the use of such technology, including issues around privacy and data security.

What do we mean by telematics?

Telematics involves use of hardware and software in vehicles to allow you to collect data. Using GPS and accelerometers, it tracks vehicle location and records vehicle performance and driver behaviour.

The pros of telematics

When it comes to vehicle fleets or your employees’ cars, telematics provides managers with some valuable information that can greatly enhance driver safety.

For example, telematics can show when a driver speeds, whether they are too heavy or late on their braking (which, ultimately, leads to unnecessary wear on brakes), ‘diving’ too hard into corners (suspension risks), accelerating too rapidly (fuel consumption) and a range of other driving behaviours that, if left unchecked, could lead to avoidable cost blowouts or, in a worst-case scenario, something fatal.

The technology behind telematics has the capacity to alert you not just for when the vehicle is due for scheduled servicing but for other maintenance issues that might require more immediate attention but often go unnoticed until they develop into a bigger problem. The savings to your business are obvious but telematics can also be an essential element in providing a safe workplace and minimising issues around vehicle maintenance and safety.

Telematics can also ensure that driver fatigue is managed effectively. In larger vehicles, vehicle weights, dimensions and distance travelled from home-base dictate legally mandated rest-breaks. Drivers in passenger cars can also be adversely impacted by fatigue. The data that accumulates from your telematics can provide a picture of whether your drivers, as a whole or individually, tend to spend too long on the road, or skip breaks.

If it’s an across-the-board trend and you don’t already have breaks in place, it may be time to implement policies on mandatory rest-times and champion a culture that strikes a better balance between productivity and driver fatigue. If the problem is more with the individual, then it’s a great opportunity to sit down one-on-one with the employee and not just remind them of the importance of reducing fatigue.

Another way in which telematics can ensure you meet your employee safety obligations is scheduling. Telematics technology is a handy way to provide drivers and schedulers with realistic delivery timeframes that reduce the temptation to speed or drive in a less than safe manner.

As National Commercial Vehicles and Aftersales Manager at LeasePlan Australia and New Zealand, Craig Porter explains, “If the scheduler, for example, sees that you’re 75-kilometres from your next point but wants you to be there in one hour – and you’ve got to go through an urban, built-up area to get there – then that may be an unrealistic timeframe [and that’s going to have] an influence over the safety of that driver or that load.”

With telematics, schedulers can take a more proactive role managing driver workloads to combat fatigue while adequately managing customer expectations.

The cons of telematics

While the positives of telematics are many, there are some very important aspects of the technology that needs to be properly managed – privacy and data security are two that sit front and centre.

Many fleet vehicles are available to staff for both business and private use, and there would be few employees happy knowing that their weekend away with family – and the data being collected from a visit to a winery or a pub for lunch – was being shared with their workplace.

In Europe, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in May 2018, provides some serious consequences for businesses when it comes to the collection and storage of telemetric data. As Jonathan Manning wrote for FleetEurope.com, apart from some onerous penalties for companies that misuse employee data, the new GDPR laws also spell out clearly the rights of employees and private individuals to “explore how their data is stored.” With protections of this kind not yet active in Australia, companies will need to pay particular attention to the way in which the data they collect and store is not just managed but is potentially accessed by the individuals concerned.

Telematics may be a handy tool for improving productivity and a useful weapon when it comes to managing CoR but, when pursuing telematics, it’s important that your organisation has the policies and infrastructure to fully protect that data.

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