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Updated Oct 23, 2023

How Telematics Improves Driver Safety

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Matt D'Angelo, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer

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Modern trucking requires updated technology for managing your fleet. By working with a telematics company, fleet managers can improve fuel efficiency, route management and driver performance. Most importantly, many telematics solutions offer features that help companies ensure that their drivers are safe. 

Importance of telematics for driver safety

Considering that long-distance truck drivers are in high demand, having a good driver safety rating can help your company attract and retain drivers. Last year, the American Trucking Association reported a deficit of 80,000 drivers, which means this employment market is more competitive than ever. 

Safety is important for both your employees and the other drivers on the road. Modern telematics solutions offer a multitude of ways to measure driver safety so that managers can use that data to make improvements. Some of these tools include driver safety scorecards, vehicle health diagnostics, optimal driving condition reports, tech assistance for accidents and driver training programs. 

By prioritizing your drivers’ safety, you can build a safe and efficient fleet, as well as attract the best drivers. It’s essential to review several companies and their driver safety offerings before committing to one. But first, you need to understand which telematics features are best for your business and your drivers’ safety.

Telematics driver safety features

Here are some telematics features that can help keep your drivers safe:

Driver safety scorecard reports

Many telematics companies offer driver safety scorecards that give fleet managers a better understanding of how their employees are faring on the road. Information is important to good management, and telematics solutions provide insight into driver behavior and decision making. This data can lead to more coaching opportunities on how to improve overall safety. Two major uses for driver scorecards are to reduce speeding and to prevent aggressive driving. 

Telematics solutions are a combination of hardware and software. Hardware installed in each vehicle reports data back to a cloud-based solution that monitors driver actions, such as hard braking, excessive speeding, intense acceleration, aggressive lane changes, harsh turning, seat belt usage and harsh cornering. When managers ensure that each driver in the fleet achieves a high safety score, they are doing their due diligence to protect both their drivers and other travelers. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Many telematics companies provide scorecard software that assigns letter grades for each driver. While an overall breakdown can help with coaching, a bird’s-eye view of driver safety allows you to understand the safety of your entire fleet.

Advanced safety reporting

Some telematics solutions provide even more advanced reporting on driver behavior. For example, Geotab offers advanced collision prevention and trend reports. This technology uses sensors that monitor the roadway to alert your drivers to potentially dangerous scenarios. Five areas this software monitors are forward collisions, headway levels, lane departure, pedestrian collisions and urban forward collisions. 

By monitoring these key sectors, the software can detect potential hazards and notify your drivers with visual and auditory alerts. This advanced warning can provide drivers with the few seconds that could be the difference between a near miss and an accident. 

Trip optimization

Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of accidents among major fleet carriers. The longer your drivers are on the road, the more prone they are to accidents. More important, the longer your trucks and fleets are active, the more potential there is for problems. Efficient routing is the backbone of driver safety. While scorecards and other reporting tools are good ways to actively measure and coach drivers on their performance to achieve safety goals, route planning is a passive way to set up your drivers for success. 

It’s essential to analyze fleet movements and assess the best ways to improve efficiency, especially on repeat routes and continued deliveries. This can mean planning alternative routes around busy areas where accidents are likely to occur, streamlining existing routes to create a more direct path to a destination, and prioritizing certain drivers and vehicles on challenging or confusing routes. 

Without telematics, you won’t be able to gather the data you need to ensure your company is achieving the most efficient routes. To improve driver safety, you need the full picture. 

Real-time coaching

One telematics feature that complements driver scorecards is in-cab driver coaching. Some companies offer third-party services to provide drivers with real-time feedback on potentially hazardous driving situations. Other fleet managers opt to handle this type of feedback in-house. This means having a designated manager monitor vehicles in your fleet. When hazardous driving situations emerge — like harsh braking, tight cornering or intense acceleration — fleet managers can check in with drivers in real time to ensure they’re taking the proper precautions. 

Real-time coaching, coupled with driver scorecards, can allow fleet managers to monitor and build an efficient, safe fleet. 

TipTip

When you’re choosing the best GPS fleet management system for your business, make a list of the features that are essential to your fleet’s success, such as fuel efficiency, driver safety and an intuitive online platform.

Vehicle maintenance and monitoring

In addition to employing driver-based tools for fleet safety, it’s essential to provide safe and efficient vehicles. Telematics solutions allow fleet managers to dial in on vehicle maintenance and reporting. By tracking data such as fuel efficiency, repair history and status, and obtaining general vehicle maintenance reports, companies can build safe fleets that start with safe trucks. 

By monitoring vehicle health and maintenance, you ensure that every vehicle your drivers use are both safe and fuel efficient. Prioritizing metrics such as tire pressure and fuel levels can give companies a targeted view of a fleet’s condition and safety at any time. 

Assistance in the event of an accident

If there is an accident or problem with a driver or vehicle while they’re on the road, telematics solutions make it easy for fleet managers to get in contact with drivers and provide assistance. For example, there are dashboard alerts for managers who are logged in to cloud-based solutions, as well as SMS alerts and push notifications to immediately alert off-duty managers, owners or other key team members if a driver is in trouble. 

This type of access can be crucial in the event of a serious accident or roadside problem. While telematics solutions provide companies with visibility into driver behavior, vehicle maintenance and route planning, this information is useless if companies can’t get in touch with their drivers during an emergency. By knowing when an issue occurs, companies can respond quickly and efficiently and ensure their drivers are safe. 

Safer work environments through telematics

Telematics solutions provide many benefits to fleets, but driver safety may be the most important in an expanding and competitive job market for truck drivers. By utilizing features such as route planning, driver scorecard reporting, vehicle maintenance reporting and real-time coaching, trucking companies can offer their drivers safe working environments. These measures allow you to optimize your fleet’s safety and efficiency while guaranteeing a safer roadway for all travelers. 

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Matt D'Angelo, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Matt D'Angelo has spent several years reviewing business software products for small businesses, such as GPS fleet management systems. He has also spent significant time evaluating financing solutions, including business loan providers. He has a firm grasp of the business lifecycle and uses his years of research to give business owners actionable insights. With a journalism degree from James Madison University, D'Angelo specializes in distilling complex business topics into easy-to-read guides filled with expertise and practical applications. In addition, D'Angelo has profiled notable small businesses and the people behind them.
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