Reducing Risk Is Not About Technology - It's About Mindset
Modern vehicle technology is helping to save lives on our roads. Sometime in the future, various technologies are expected to completely remove the primary cause of at least 80% of today's road crashes - driver error.
For now, technology can certainly assist in bringing about operational efficiencies, customer service improvements and better driver behaviour. However, current technology can only do so much. Probably the most powerful influence on behaviour in any workplace is not technology, but culture, leadership and management practices.
For example, simply deciding that good driving behaviour matters to the organisation and putting some measureable procedure in place, helps create an environment that improves performance and reduces crashes. The opposite is also true. Where there is little or no management buy-in, there are more negative consequences.
We strongly believe that positive outcomes are linked to the well-known "observer effect" (or Hawthorne Effect). Driving-related research supports this view. Soon after their MD announced a new driver training programme, one company saw an immediate and significant reduction in collisions - BEFORE the training had even started. Other employers who regularly monitor driver behaviour, report far fewer crashes and better than average fuel-economy. In part, this result is achieved by positive peer-pressure, or what psychologists call "social cognition". By contrast,while in-vehicle driver training can be beneficial, often it's effects on fleet performance is temporary.
Vehicle telematics is about getting real-time data on driving activities with a view to improving a process, service or behaviour (or some combination of these three). While the majority of larger commercial vehicles today already have telematics installed, most vans and cars do not.
For any employer keen to reduce road-risk and considering vehicle telematics, a key challenge is around how to avoid causing upset to staff. The saying, "people do not fear change, they fear loss," sums-up the very real challenge that needs to be recognised and addressed. The fear that telematics data will be used in some "Big Brother" way, is likely to have staff "Voting No".
Privacy Matters To Everyone
So while today's technology can provide valuable insights, the risk to morale from this new data suggests businesses face a Catch-22 situation.
However, both goals - Insight and Privacy - can be met.
Just because technology can provide an ever-increasing level of detail, this does not mean employers either want it, need it or will ever use all of it. Instead, the right summary report at the right time, to the right person can have a very powerful and positive effect.
If your objective is to reduce the frequency and severity of collisions, we recommend all communications focus on this purpose (i.e. WHY data is gathered) and the expected behaviours (e.g. HOW an employee drives). Extraneous or sensitive personal data (e.g. WHERE or WHEN trips occurred) should generally not be stored or shared only with the employee (e.g. for the purpose of raising self-awareness of their behaviour and showing how to improve performance).
We believe that the rule here is simply "less is more".
Simple, Rolling 30 Day Score
Adopting a privacy-by-design approach gives employees total control of the collection of trip data and by default, only reports an overall, very high-level summary to relevant managers (i.e. on a strictly "need to know" basis).
The DriverFocus App uses a small bluetooth device that is easily plugged into the cockpit of the employee's car. Only when paired with the App on the employee's smartphone or tablet/iPad is it possible for location data to be captured. Of course, the employee controls a range of safeguards, any of which will stop trip data being captured. These include whether the smartphone is on, the App is on or location services are enabled. Then, when a trip is being recorded, the employee even has the option to stop the recording. Furthermore, employers can even allow recorded trips to be deleted by the employee via their online account.
So, yes, it is now possible to reduce crashes by complementing your Driving for Work Programme with actionable, summary insights on HOW your field employees are behaving when driving for work, while also showing respect for their privacy.