3 Steps Companies Can Take to Solve Road Safety Challenges Using “Big Data”

From monitoring drivers who may accelerate too fast from a stoplight, to tracking truck breakdowns, “big data” is revealing new insights that companies can use to help make roads – and drivers – safer.

For instance, using fleet data showed UPS that making left turns against traffic wasted fuel and time, and could lead to an increase in collisions. The company implemented a “minimal left turn” policy and reduced fuel use and road crashes significantly.

Research indicates that fleet or company drivers have an increased crash risk compared to drivers of privately registered vehicles. Vehicle collisions during work-related driving account for up to one-third of road fatalities (excluding commuting), and accounts for more than a third of occupational deaths, as well as significant employer costs.

A company must consider the welfare of its employees, as well as the dangers business fleets could pose to other road users. Below are three “big data” steps that companies can take to initiate safer driving practices and limit the road-related risks posed to their employees and other road users.

Capturing Data

Large fleet operators have implemented vehicle telematics to track vehicle performance and driver safety. Fleet drivers can benefit from improved driving behavior and insurance discounts as a result.

Vehicles that are equipped with GPS tracking devices can be used to capture warning data, including harsh breaking, harsh accelerations, seat belt misuse, distracted driving, and speeding. Some trucking companies are adding cameras to monitor unusual events and driver actions to identify the root causes of on-the-job collisions.

Sensor-equipped vehicles can also reveal secrets about vehicle health and maintenance issues. Driven by data, proactive maintenance and repairs can reduce vehicle failures and extend the life of fleets.

Telematics company Octo Telematics provides fleet management solutions that allow companies to not only monitor vehicles in real time, but also through easy-to-use platforms, reduce fuel consumption, improve driver safety, and limit unauthorized asset utilization by leveraging location and driver behavior data. The solutions also allow fleet managers to instantly receive breakdown or crash notifications, provide automated emergency assistance, and accelerate the claims process. Their insurance providers can then easily:

  • validate a claim;
  • determine who is the liable party;
  • get information about the damage involved;
  • have detailed reconstructions about impacts and magnitude.

In addition, Octo’s distracted driving feature monitors how a mobile phone is being used during a trip, detects and analyzes several risky behaviors with different severity levels, and communicates the final details and score to the insurance partner and their UBI policyholder. Unlike other penalty-focused distracted driving apps that may shut off a smartphone altogether, Octo delivers an education-based approach, monitoring and communicating feedback to drivers so they better understand the risks, and working with insurance customers to incentivize drivers to stay off their phones while driving.

Overall, telematics data allows companies to increase efficiency, improve driver performance and safety, reduce total cost of fleet ownership, and better manage overall costs.

Analyzing Data

Telematics data collected from each truck can be used in a comprehensive motor vehicle safety management program to identify patterns and trends in driver behaviors and vehicle incidents.

Industry best practices point to monthly or quarterly reviews of safety performance metrics to identify trends, and evaluating metrics annually against results from previous years to establish new goals.

Ryder System’s truck safety analytics group compiles a monthly safety scorecard report for review by company leaders. The report includes the Total Safety Index, a single composite score for all of the safety measurement categories, and the Safety at a Glance report that shows real-time incident and trend data. Managers can focus on problem areas and share best practices from drivers or locations that consistently perform well.

Making Changes

While the flood of data from vehicles can be overwhelming, over time companies can translate it into actionable intelligence that makes roads safer.

Through collecting, analyzing, and disclosing data on driver performance, drivers can be better informed on how well they’re performing, how close they may be to triggering remedial action, and what action they need to take to improve their performance.

Operators can crunch the data points – such as weather, traffic congestion, and driver status – into actionable information that can be used for one truck and driver or for the entire fleet.

For fleet operations, data analysis allows for improvement in company operations and performance, creating visibility to improve safety for everyone on the road.