Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 1/6/2021
By Chris Boyd, Chief Product and Technology Officer, eDriving
Not only will 2020 go down in history as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also as the year that almost everything went digital, from business events to social get-togethers!
And, while digital safety programs have been around for some time, more and more elements of driver risk management are shifting to a digital format, including driver training and coaching. Of course, there will always be a place for in-car training and face-to-face interactions between managers and drivers, but for the foreseeable future, many organizations will be utilizing more and more digital tools to manage driver risk.
Some of the digital tools and features now available to organizations to help them effectively manage driver risk include:
Fleet driver performance data from disparate sources (including 3rd parties) can be integrated into a single system, providing an unprecedented, unified view of total risk across an organization. These data sources can include risk assessments, license checking/MVR output, collision/incident reports, telematics data, CSA data (commercial fleets), as well as custom data “universes” to identify an organization’s most at-risk drivers.
The integration and analysis of this data enables fleet managers to focus on the execution of a high-risk response plan for those who need it.
Telematic sensors available in iOS and Android smartphones can collect and analyze driver behavior data. This can include Acceleration, Braking, Cornering, Speeding, and Phone Distraction. Smartphone-based solutions eliminate the need for in-vehicle installation and because they are portable, they can move with the driver between vehicles, can be used in any type of vehicle – including cars, trucks, vans, and two-wheelers – and in any location in the world.
Smartphone-based solutions can also be combined with existing telematics solutions that measure activities such as seat belt use, idling, fuel efficiency and reversing, resulting in one performance management system that helps establish safety as a strategic imperative.
Digital driver training
Smartphone-based driver safety programs can identify areas in need of improvement, based on a driver’s on-road performance, and automatically deliver tailored, engaging, interactive training modules to the smartphone, as well as “core” modules for all drivers on the program. Digital programs can enable managers to oversee training assignments and view completions.
Multi-use safety programs
The digitalization of driver safety programs enables organizations to combine previously separate fleet management and driver safety tools. For example, as well as identifying risky driving behaviors and assigning eLearning modules, digital driver safety programs can also incorporate features for driver event reporting (enabling drivers to send descriptions and photographs of incidents/ collisions to their managers, Fleet Management Companies and Accident Management Companies) and vehicle inspections, enabling drivers to complete checklist inspections and report vehicle faults within the same program.
While many driver scoring systems provide hindsight into unsafe driving, it is the ability to predict future risk that is the gamechanger for digital driver safety programs. The ability to accurately identify driver risk, and predict future crash risk, helps fleet operators identify drivers in need of further guidance, support, and coaching to meet the company’s goals and expectations, and to help tackle the 94% problem (that 94% of collisions can be attributed to driver error*).
Emojis, direct messaging and chat functionality can all be incorporated into digital driver safety programs to help encourage driver engagement and peer interaction, and to create talking points for informal manager-driver discussions.
“Real-time” feedback and notifications
Digital driver safety programs can provide “real-time” trip reports to drivers, with post-trip feedback detailing actual events and exactly where they occurred. This provides drivers with visibility into areas for improvement and helps to encourage safer behaviors. Such programs can also provide reporting to managers, minus location data, helping organizations to identify those in need of additional support, while maintaining driver privacy.
The digitalization of safety and management solutions is already having a huge impact on the management of driver risk, and is likely to grow in popularity even more in 2021 and beyond, as the world continues to accommodate further developments in technology and adjust to the “new normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead, digitalization presents incredible opportunities for safety and risk managers to move away from disparate, manual tasks, providing them with a single source of truth that helps to maintain the focus on safety as a strategic imperative.
*NHTSA study looked at the major crash causes and found that a mere 2% of crashes were caused by the environment, another 2% were caused by the vehicles, and 2% came from “unknown” causes. A full 94% of crashes, meanwhile, were caused by mistakes made by drivers.