The telematics industry has made many claims over the years, not the least of which is that the technology can improve safety and contribute to improving driver behaviour. 

But such claims can raise eyebrows, especially as behavioural improvement is traditionally dependent on managers proactively generating system reports, publishing league tables and identifying training priorities, in addition to then following through with the necessary training and regular check-ups. All of which is time consuming and can interrupt day to day operations.

masternaut - vehicles on a rural road

It would be a brave fleet manager that ignored the need for driver monitoring and training. A driver’s behaviour behind the wheel is probably the single most important factor determining their safety and security. And it’s a significant contributor to the physical integrity of your vehicles, your insurance premiums, as well as repair, maintenance and other ‘off the road’ costs’. Not to mention the impact on your brand caused by wayward drivers in liveried vehicles.

But is there is a better way to improve driver behavior without resorting to resource-intensive managerial control?

At Masternaut, we believe there is.

We’ve developed the ‘In-cab coach’, a small, dashboard mounted device that provides real-time feedback on speeding, ‘harsh’ driving events (such as hard braking or acceleration) and idling, all designed to inform the driver and to promote a safer, smoother, more economical driving style.

masternaut in-cab coaching device

It uses ‘Red Amber Green’ visual signals as well as an auditory warning (yes, it beeps at you) to alerts drivers when they are outside of normal driving parameters.

It was designed on the basis that people are more likely to change their behaviour when they receive immediate, rather than post-event, feedback. The familiar roadside vehicle-activated speed signs work on the same basis and the evidence is that they have a direct effect on drivers, who moderate their speed significantly, even though they are not being photographed and will not face a penalty.

Does the ‘In-cab coach’ work in practice?

This was a key question behind a recent white paper “The impact of immediate feedback on driving behaviour’ published by Masternaut in June 2017.

The paper summarises the results of a study of 9,000 light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in commercial fleets comparing vehicles with the in-cab coach to vehicles without it over three months.

Data was compiled on the following driver behaviours:

  • Speeding
  • Harsh driving events
  • Idling

In addition, data on fuel consumption was also monitored and analysed.

The results were unambiguous.

Overall, the vehicles equipped with the In-cab coach showed a substantially lower rate of speeding events than those without. In fact, the average number of speeding events recorded per 100 miles travelled was 53% less than the that recorded by the LCVs without immediate feedback.

masternaut - van on the road

This is a dramatic effect and can only be seen as a notable modification in driver behaviour that undoubtedly leads to significant improvements in safety. At which point, it’s worth remembering that speed is an incredibly important element in overall safety levels. In the UK, over 3,000 people lost their lives in road traffic incidents where speed was a contributory factor. Speed is also correlated to injury levels and to the financial impact of road collisions.

And it has a profound impact on fuel economy, where fuel efficiency levels fall off dramatically with increasing speed. Managing speed is thus a ‘very good thing’ and the impact of immediate feedback via the In-cab coach should be seen in this context.

But it also affects other driving behaviors:

  • Harsh driving events are also considerably lower in vehicles with the In-cab coach, with the number of events recorded per hour down by over 25%
  • Idling times are also lower, with equipped LCVs showing idling time as 7.5% of total driving time against the 9% figure shown by those without the In-cab coach

And finally, immediate feedback also has an effect on fuel consumption, with over 5% savings achieved across all types of LCV equipped with the In-cab coach.

Summary

The study provides clear evidence that immediate feedback to drivers has a major impact on their behaviour, resulting in much less speeding, safer and smoother driving, lower idling times, and a significant overall reduction in fuel consumption.

For more information about the study, please click here.

Author: Helen Potter, VP HR, Masternaut

Want to run a smarter fleet?

As the UK's leading supplier of vehicle tracking & fleet management solutions, we help over 10,000 companies transform complex fleet data into fact-based business clarity. Start your journey to a smarter fleet by downloading our free brochure today.