By Stephen Bennett
Monitoring driving behavior helps to identify drivers who are operating a vehicle aggressively or recklessly. Those drivers can be given remedial training with the aim that it will lead to not only improved performance by the driver, but also an improved overall safety record for the fleet. Additionally, safer driving can result in reduced fuel consumption, less wear and tear on vehicles and decreased maintenance and repair costs.
This year, Netradyne (www.Netradyne.com), a company in San Diego, began offering a camera-based system called Driveri, which is designed to enhance driver management by recording every driving moment; safe, productive performance is documented right alongside troublesome behaviors such as speeding and hard braking.
“Having the big picture enables supervisors to cite examples of good driving and use them for best practice reinforcement,” said Adam Kahn, Vice President, Fleets, for Netradyne. A driver who has a string of productive, safe driving days and has received positive, timely feedback is less likely to react negatively when a later careless maneuver is brought to his or her attention.
It’s important to note the difference between “lagging” indicators and “leading” indicators. Lagging indicators are based on collected data downloaded sometime after the end of a day or shift, and sometimes they are not reviewed by a supervisor until days later. Leading indicators are based on data generated by exceptional or noteworthy events that have just occurred.
“Netradyne’s system generates an email alert almost immediately,” Kahn explained. “The near real-time generation of that email can allow the supervisor to take actions to reinforce a desired outcome, or help minimize or avoid an unwanted one.
“If you see the driver is doing a great job, you might be able to insert praise at midday. Or, if a driver is having a decline in performance at midday, you might be able to intervene. Perhaps a driver running late on a delivery drives fast and runs a red light without incident, for example. The system will notify the supervisor within minutes.
“The supervisor can react by changing the scheduled time of the next delivery to allow the driver more time. When the supervisor communicates the rescheduled time, he can also tell the driver to slow down. The message is, ‘I’d much rather you be late than crash your truck and get injured,’” Kahn concluded.
Driveri is a camera-based system; a device is mounted on the windshield near the rearview mirror. It consists of three cameras, which are positioned to cover the road ahead as well as the left and right peripheries. The cameras record vehicles, stop signs, stop lights and pedestrians during every driving moment of the vehicle operator’s shift, and a processor in the device sorts out highlights and generates the email to the fleet manager, who then visits a secure website to watch relevant video.
The bulk of the video is stored in case some portion needs to be reviewed later; for instance, if someone claims a truck struck their mailbox. “In those cases, you don’t cast blame on the driver right away,” Khan noted. “You have to settle those inquiries.” Having that extensive video on hand to establish what actually happened creates trust in the driver.
Fleet Complete (www.FleetComplete.com)—which is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada—primarily focuses on fleets with up to 20 vehicles, though it has some customers who operate larger fleets. The Fleet Complete system is wired into each vehicle’s engine control module, a requirement of U.S. hours of service (HOS) regulations.
Installing the company’s MGS700 device is “relatively easy, and while we offer installation services, most of our fleet customers install the units themselves,” said Tim Kwan, Marketing Lead for Fleet Complete. Data are transmitted via cellular network to a Fleet Complete desktop application. “The cost depends on the device, the cables required and so on, but it works out to less than $1.00 per day, per vehicle,” Kwan continued. “We sell it on a subscription model, so typically there is no upfront cost on hardware.”
A fleet operator can use data from the system to monitor driving performance and to implement remedial driver training when necessary. “You can see when a driver is speeding, cornering harshly, ignoring recommended routes and so on,” Kwan explained. Reports generated by the system can help a fleet operator coach and manage his or her drivers’ behaviors, and the same data can be used to support vehicle maintenance.
Here are descriptions of some additional systems designed to help fleet operators manage their drivers:
Drivewyze: Drivewyze’s network of weigh station bypasses operates at more than 600 locations in 36 states. Fleet operators that use the service can cite its benefits in driver recruitment campaigns and in retention efforts, while also pointing to productivity and fuel cost savings. Learn more at www.Drivewyze.com.
ERM: ERM’s products are designed to improve security, enhance safety, lower operating costs and thereby increase business efficiency. For location services, driver behavior, fuel management and fuel theft alerting, cold chain, motorcycle tracking, immobilizing and so on, ERM offers everything needed to securely and efficiently manage customers’ fleets. For more information, visit www.ERMTelematics.com.
Geotab: Geotab is a global leader in telematics, providing open platform fleet management solutions to businesses of all sizes. Geotab’s intuitive, full-featured solutions help businesses better manage their drivers and vehicles by extracting accurate and actionable intelligence from real-time and historical trips data. Many Fortune 500 companies rely on Geotab’s technology to provide measurable management data. For more information, visit www.Geotab.com.
Gorilla Safety: Gorilla Safety offers a cloud-based software solution designed to automate fleet and safety management. Its mobile app integrates the capabilities necessary to safely and efficiently manage large short-haul and long-haul vehicle fleets. For more information, visit www.GorillaSafety.com.
SkyBitz: SkyBitz Local Fleets offers activity and GPS tracking features to help fleets gain full visibility of its vehicles, drivers and assets so they can improve productivity and their bottom line. For more information, visit www.SkyBitz.com.
SmartDrive Systems: SmartDrive Systems are designed to give fleets and drivers insight on, and analysis of, driving performance. Its systems feature video analysis, predictive analytics and personalized performance programs designed to help fleets improve driving skills, lower operating costs and deliver return on investment (ROI). For more information, visit www.SmartDrive.net.
Verizon Telematics (includes Fleetmatics and Telogis): Fleetmatics Group PLC provides mobile workforce solutions, delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS), for service-based businesses. Its offerings are designed for managing local fleets, including generation of driver behavioral data. Its Web-based solutions provide fleet operators with visibility into vehicle location, fuel usage, speed and mileage. Fleetmatics and another system for fleet management, Telogis, have been acquired by Verizon. To learn more about both systems, go to www.NetworkFleet.com.