Risk Management Recommendations from University of Arizona

The Project

Some time back, Fleetistics worked closely with researchers from the University of Arizona on a risk management project.  Our role was assisting in the selection and deployment of GPS/telematics devices. The project team installed the devices in a variety of emergency service vehicles. The project goal was to address the leading cause of death in the US fire service.  For that reason, the project lead was an Epidemiologist.

Everyone can imagine the obvious dangers firefighters face on the job.  In contrast, it is surprising to learn that the leading cause of workplace death has nothing to do with fighting fires.  Considered an epidemic among firefighters are emergency service vehicle crashes.  For Fleetistics, it was a little different than working with Fleet Managers and Dispatchers, but the same principles apply.

Risk Management Study Published

Risk Management ProcessThe published results of the study are now available online.  Certainly, this information represents great value to fleets of all types and sizes.  The telematics devices provided insight into driving behaviors, speed, G-forces, seatbelt usage, use of lights and sirens, and various other metrics.

Implementing formal risk management procedures to reduce workplace injury is feasible and beneficial in any fleet. This study offers insight on the process of evaluating and managing risk.  Even more, any fleet can apply these methods scaled to fit their company needs.

Using Proactive Risk Management

In order to factor different driving situations, the project team selected 3 fire departments to represent urban, suburban, and rural operations.  Then, using a proactive risk management process, key concerns were identified.  As a result, new policies and procedures were implemented, and enhanced training was introduced.  The end goal was to lower risk to the emergency responders.  Finally, each department tailored its policies and training based on their individual findings.

Within Your Reach

The process used is similar to the steps taken in our Solution Evaluation Process.  While the purpose of the SEP is much different, and the time frame much shorter, the same risk management principals are in play.

Geotab is a leading provider of telematics.   The system delivers risk management data that is simple to understand.  Reports include graphs for quick assimilation of information. Risk factors are exposed using custom exception rules that are easily created. Presenting big data in a highly consumable format is one of the things the Geotab solution does best. With accurate, actionable telematics data, the application of Risk Management best practices is within the reach of any size fleet.

Leveraging GPS Data Pays Off!

GPS Data can be mined just like precious gemstones…

In my time at Fleetistics I have noticed the clients we speak with generally fall into one of 3 persuasions.

  1. Those who remain unconvinced of the value of GPS data, undecided, and plan to deploy the technology someday.
  2. Clients who understand the value, deploy and then underuse their GPS data.
  3. Intentional users who deploy, immerse themselves in the value of the information at their fingertips and become POWER users.

If you are still just thinking about telematics for your fleet, every day you delay is costing you cold hard cash.

For those who have already deployed, are you using your system to its fullest potential?

And to our POWER users, I say CONGRATULATIONS!

You are leveraging GPS data to save your organization money, providing every department with valuable operational data to do their jobs better, encouraging safe driving, and quite possibly saving lives.

So what do the POWER users do differently with their GPS data?

First of all, they never forget that they have valuable GPS, telematics and diagnostic data to leverage. Frankly, I learn new methods to dig for data from the POWER users all the time. It usually starts with a question. “How can I find out (you fill in the blank)?”

We look at what GPS data is available to answer the question. Then we create new rules or zones if needed, and set alerts if appropriate.  In most cases, we can customize a report to sift to the data that answers the question. If we cannot solve a problem with the GPS platform, we look to develop something custom or find a partner whose technology solves the problem.

Dashboard reports

Finally, we schedule the distribution of the report to the departments that it provides value to. The departments can take appropriate action based on the data they receive.  With this flow of information, departments can evaluate ongoing improvement effortlessly.

5 Proven Ways to Lower Fleet Costs using GPS data that you may have never considered.

1. Wage war on distracted driving.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study concluded that drivers that text while driving are 23 times more likely to have a collision or a near miss. Other VTTI studies have shown that taking your eyes off the road just prior to the occurrence of an unexpected event is responsible for up to 90% of collision and near-miss events.

A simple camera system can monitor for distractions like phone use, texting, and smoking.  There are also clues in the GPS data. Frequent hard braking and hard turning events, especially when they occur in pairs, are a strong indicator that drivers are not paying attention.

Once you identify drivers that are at risk you can institute a driver training program, incorporate cell phone supression technology in vehicle, or start a program that recognizes and rewards drivers for improvement and safe driving scores.

2. Slow down your speeders

Speeding is dangerous and wastes fuel.  As a result, if you can slow drivers down a little you lower risk and save money.

Wage war on speeding in the same manner as distracted driving above, but also look at why your drivers feel the need to speed. Review routes for efficiency, number of stops and factor the time each stop may take. It may be time to look at route optimization software to streamline routes and understand where you can and can’t fit another stop in.

Last question… Are your expectations of what a driver can complete in a workday reasonable? Really think about that considering speed limits, traffic patterns, and areas that get congested at certain times of day. If not, consider this.

average cost of a collision

What comes out of pocket depends on your insurace, but I expect it would cost your company less to hire another driver and spread out the workload.

3. Weather Factoring

For a ridiculously low investment, MyFleetview weather overlays can be added to your GPS system. When the weather is an issue in your area, you can see what vehicles may be affected and easily reschedule jobs or reshuffle deliveries to keep drivers away from unsafe conditions.

This is especially critical when doing outdoor work like roofing or landscaping. You are already conscious of the weather.  Being able to see where a storm is headed in relation to your jobs and vehicles on the map makes those last-minute decisions faster and easier to make.

MyFleetview Weather Overlay

4. Develop and retain safe drivers

Sometimes we overlook the GPS data that shows us there is not a problem. We all know that onboarding a new employee and getting them up to speed is costly and time consuming. Keeping the experienced drivers you have is just good business, and it seems like really good employees are getting harder to find.

You can use the GPS data and score card reports to stay up to date on who your safest drivers are. Make that a point to cover in performance reviews and again, recognize and reward employees that are saving you money by reducing company risk exposure. Employees that feel appreciated stay longer.

5. Hire a GPS Administrator... no, really!

I know what you are thinking… add another salaried employee to save money??? Well, yes! First of all, your Managers have time to log in and see where their people are, but not the time to dig in and analyze all of the GPS data being collected.

If you hire someone whose primary job is to find ways to save money and streamline operations the payoff can be huge.  They will have time to optimize the GPS system and use the GPS data to find ways to save you money, and their bonus incentive can be tied to those proven savings.  Now you might just get everything you want out of your GPS data and more.

For a fleet of 20 vehicles, saving just $5 per vehicle per day, which can be achieved by controlling idle time alone, gives you $26,000 toward an Administrator’s salary package.

Fleet Administrator

Curbing Employee Theft

Employee theft comes in many shapes and sizes.

 

 

Employee sleeping in the cab

Defined as any stealing, use or misuse of an employer’s assets without permission, employee theft hurts everyone. Employee theft, mostly time theft, is a real problem in our culture.  Here are some examples of employee theft that come to mind.

  1. Selling company data to competitors
  2. Misuse of company assets
  3. Theft of time (being on cell phone) by not doing the work one is being paid to do
  •  

There is a trickle down effect caused by employee theft.

 

Eventually, it hits the consumer’s wallet in the form of higher prices. For that reason, stopping employee theft is good for us all.  It keeps the business profitable, customers happy with prices that aren’t inflated, and honest employees more content and secure in their jobs.

Maybe we don’t spend enough time talking with clients about using their GPS data to prevent or expose employee theft, but it can be a great tool.  A few years back, a client called me because they suspected foul play.  This client recycles used cooking oil into other products.  They noticed a marked reduction in the yield they were getting from the oil cleaning process.  In an effort to understand what had changed, they looked back at their GPS tracking history.  They spotted some unauthorized stops in their GPS tracking data, and called me to see what to do next.

oil tank

After creating a zone around the unauthorized stop location, we reprocessed several months of data against the new zone.  Reports showed both history in the zone and a pattern. That was the information that told the story.  Not too long after, the Baltimore Sun reported “Three charged in Hartford in $1 million scheme to steal used cooking oil.”  You can get the whole story here.

It is so rewarding that Fleetistics and the products we represent make a measurable difference.  Above all it reminds us when we are confronted with a real-world example like this.  In this case, we had a part to play in stopping employee theft, and the trickle-down effects that theft would have had on others.

Collision Reconstruction Limits Heartbreak Over Collision Damage

You can’t always prevent collision damage,

but you can prevent the heartbreak. Thanks in part to Geotab’s Collision Reconstruction add on, there is a happy ending to what could have been a very sad story.

I think we all have a vision of our dream car from our youth. For me it was always a little red rag-top. A couple of years ago I found her. She was a Chili Red Mini Cooper with a blue denim convertible top. Her name, chosen by her previous owner, was Rosie.

She had a lot of life left in her when I was recently hit from behind. The impact pushed me into the vehicle in front of me so I had collision damage both front and rear. As I dialed 911, I watched the other two very young drivers call their parents. Though the damage appeared superficial, my dream car was possibly going to be totaled, and ahead of me the negotiation with the insurance company loomed large.​

Accessing the Collision Reconstruction Data

The first thing I did when I got home was fire up the the computer to pull the accident data. With the collision reconstruction add on, it took just a couple of minutes.  The truth is often not exactly what we remember,and in this case, that was the case.

How could I have been so certain I was at a complete stop when I was hit from behind?  The collision reconstruction data showed I was driving 6 mph and slowing to stop. I wondered in that moment if the other drivers had similar flaws in their memory of the event. Also, the data indicated an initial accident level impact at the rear of my vehicle propelling me forward at 6:07:06 PM. Two more minor spikes on the graph indicate backward motion at about half the force of the initial impact. I suspect one of those may have been the force of my roll bar deploying.

Processing the Claim

Processing of the claim for the collision damage was somewhat slow. The insurance company had to reach all three drivers involved for their statements before they could make a determination of fault. I had advised the insurance company that I had the data and could prove exactly what happened, but they had to go through their process. Apparently the crucial information they needed from the driver in front of me, was how many impacts he heard, relative to what he felt, to verify that the rear vehicle actually hit me before I hit him. I wondered if his memory was clear on that point, but was confident the data would back me up if it was not.

Had there been any question, the G force and speed graphs above would tell the entire story. Had it ended up in litigation, the engineers at Geotab would have provided me with expert testimony in the form of a formal report explaining and validating the data from their collision reconstruction. Lucky for me, the insurance company just wrote a check to cover the collision damage.

Unfortunately,

The next day I received the dreaded call… after further review it was determined the frame was bent, and due to severe collision damage Rosie and I would not be seeing any more highway miles together. The insurance company settled, and I was off to find a new car. Knowing that I had solid facts acquired through collision reconstruction, allowed me to negotiate from a position of power, rather than accepting whatever the insurance company decided. I had a nice fat down payment in my pocket, and my former loan was paid off.

I promised a happy ending, so here it is. Not quite 2 weeks from the collision event, I was driving my new car. I could not find another Chili Red one, but British Racing Green can grow on a person. My new road pal is 2 years and 50K miles younger, has a turbo charger, and a far superior sound system. I am naming him Jack Hammer, after the salesman at the Mini dealer (I swear that is his real name).

Thanks Jack!

Thanks Geotab!

Driver Improvement Through Targeted Driver Training

Ongoing driver improvement through targeted driver training is one of the hottest trends in fleet management today.

When based on actual driving history, it is an effective tool for driver improvement. A recent article in Commercial Carrier Journal mentions the need for more targeted driver training.  The article warns that in cab alerts are distracting to the driver. Classroom trainings like those endorsed by the National Safety Council are great, and have been the standard for many years.  We teach the NSC Defensive Driving Course on a monthly basis at our own corporate office, but it takes advance planning and time off the job for drivers to attend.  Business requires something that is readily available when needed.

Over the past couple of years, 2 primary models of targeted driver self-improvement have emerged.  Not surprisingly, they are simple merit models and demerit models.

Merit vs Demerit

Examples of merit models are game apps. Driving data is converted into a score and drivers compete for recognition.  Competition is the primary motivation because it is fun, and because nobody wants to be a loser.  Adding a reward, like a cash bonus for the most improved driver, maintains interest. Clearly, competition will promote driver improvement, but is still not targeted driver training.

Demerit models look for problems and assign targeted driver training.  Specific behavior, for example speeding, results in lessons assigned to the driver on how speed can be dangerous.  This achieves driver improvement in two ways.

  1. The driver learns how speed can be a danger to himself and others through the lessons assigned.
  2. The driver doesn’t want another course assignment that he has to complete after work hours, so he changes his behavior.

The goal is to provide a custom training course based on need.  Each driver is assigned lessons based on their driving deficiencies. A program like this is often administered by the Safety Department in larger companies, but in small and medium size businesses, who is going to do all that? Many businesses would like to implement targeted driver training, but only if it is a “hands off” approach.

Predictive Coach course modules

Predictive Coach Course Modules

The Keys to Automating Driver Training

To automate the process your GPS tracking system provides the data directly to the training app.  Training content on a variety of subjects is organized into courses and lessons.  When thresholds for unwanted behavior are met, the app assigns the appropriate training to the driver.  Drivers access training from their personal devices, and no supervision is needed. Training is easy to use, interesting, and focused on driver improvement. Managers only need to be notified when drivers fail to complete the assigned courses, but they can review lessons assigned and completed if they want.

Predictive Coach meets all of the criteria.

  1. Improves driver behaviors with a data driven training program
  2. Eases the burden of safety monitoring through automation
  3. Eliminates willful negligence around driver discipline
  4. Integrates seamlessly with your Geotab tracking solution
  5. Proven to produce results through targeted driver training

Predictive Coach automated driver training has been evaluated by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is proven to reduce dangerous driver behavior.

Predictive Coach Study Improvement Graph

Individual Predictive Coach courses contain 3 to 7 individual lessons.  The lessons are automatically assigned to drivers when exceptions to rules occur.  The driving rules used are the ones you configure with tolerances you set.  Managers are notified when assigned lessons have not been completed, and they appreciate the compact dashboards and reports that are available for reviewing and comparing drivers. Drivers can complete the courses on laptop, phone or tablet from virtually anywhere.

That fits our definition – automated driver improvement through targeted driver training.

Schedule a demo to learn how Predictive Coach is affordable, easy to implement and protects your fleet and organization.

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