The most re­cent an­nual road ac­ci­dent re­port, re­leased by the South African Depart­ment of Trans­port, re­vealed that the rate of se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents on South African roads is cost­ing the econ­omy around R307 bil­lion per year. More than theft and hi­jack­ing, unsa

RISKSA Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - Do­minic Uys

The re­mote mon­i­tor­ing of driver be­hav­iour in the commercial trans­port in­dus­try is not a new phe­nom­e­non. Ve­hi­cle track­ing ser­vices have of­fered not only a means of re­cov­er­ing stolen property, but also to iden­tify trends within one’s own fleet. In this field there are a num­ber of ser­vice providers that of­fer track­ing so­lu­tions and the num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions have grown ex­po­nen­tially. Sid Bee­ton, di­vi­sional man­ager for trans­port at ONE In­sur­ance, tells RISKSA more about the track­ing so­lu­tions that form part of the com­pany’s ser­vices. “We have a joint ven­ture with Au­to­trak, and our clients’ cover in­cludes the cost of unit track­ing and re­cov­ery. It is a web- based sys­tem and you can track your ve­hi­cles, look­ing at pa­ram­e­ters like speed, num­ber of stops or the like. We also use a com­pany called Guard­cor in KwaZulu- Natal, and they of­fer bureau ser­vices, giv­ing on- thes­pot re­ports when they see speed­ing,” he says. “The trend is very much to mon­i­tor your ve­hi­cles more closely and satel­lite track­ing has, to a large ex­tent, closed the gap that fleet man­agers used to have in terms of main­tain­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their driv­ers. Most com­pa­nies have also started tak­ing ad­van­tage of the in­creased vis­i­bil­ity of their ve­hi­cles to an­a­lyse things like fuel us­age and speed­ing,” he continues. The ques­tion that comes to mind, how­ever, is whether there may be such a thing as watch­ing too closely. Bee­ton states that an­other of the ser­vices that ONE has started rec­om­mend­ing to their clients, is the DriveCam sys­tem, which has not only proven it­self as a use­ful tool in im­prov­ing driver safety, but also takes the scru­tiny of driver be­hav­iour to a whole new level.

Get­ting into the cab

Ser­vice provider for the DriveCam sys­tem in South Africa, Drive Re­port, de­scribes its ser­vices as util­is­ing data from video and caller re­ports to cre­ate a fo­cused risk pro­file of a driver, en­abling fleet oper­a­tors to es­tab­lish an ac­count­able and struc­tured so­lu­tion to driver man­age­ment. Louis Swart, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Drive Re­port, ex­plains that the around 83 per cent of ve­hi­cle in­ci­dents have been proven to be caused by driver er­ror. A statistic which is just as ap­pli­ca­ble within South Africa as it is on the in­ter­na­tional stage. “There are of course so many telem­at­ics com­pa­nies that track the ve­hi­cle and what is be­ing done to the ve­hi­cle, but we can’t al­ways see the real dic­ta­tor of risk ( the driver) at work. We are, on the other hand, fo­cused ex­clu­sively on the driver area, and I be­lieve that the in­dus­try’s shift to be­hav­iour man­age­ment has

as­sisted us greatly in gen­er­at­ing new busi­ness,” Swart says. “And the fact that we have proven our prod­uct to ac­tu­ally be able to af­fect real be­hav­iour change, has def­i­nitely helped the ac­cep­tance of DriveCam in the in­sur­ance in­dus­try. We have seen in­sur­ers change from un­der­writ­ing losses to un­der­writ­ing prof­its within a pe­riod of 12 months,” he continues.

To break it down, Swart ex­plains that the com­pany in­stalls a video event recorder in the ve­hi­cle be­hind the rear view mir­ror. The recorder in­cludes two lenses fac­ing the front as well as the in­te­rior of the ve­hi­cle. In the event of an ac­ci­dent, the cam­era re­tains the vis­ual in­for­ma­tion from a few sec­onds be­fore and a few sec­onds af­ter the in­ci­dent, and sends this in­for­ma­tion to the DriveCam re­view cen­ter for anal­y­sis. Swart ex­plains that the video feeds from the truck cabs can be ac­cessed on­line by the fleet man­ager at any time to see how their driv­ers

are do­ing and mon­i­tor driver be­hav­iour. “It is a mam­moth task to an­a­lyse al­most all the footage from ev­ery cam­era that we have on the road but we are con­nected to an in­ter­na­tional team of re­view­ers who an­a­lyse the video data for us. Our people then look for signs of fa­tigue, whether the driver has taken on any unau­tho­rised pas­sen­gers, or whether it

is even the au­tho­rised driver who is op­er­at­ing the ve­hi­cle. We have ac­tu­ally caught some driv­ers giv­ing driv­ing lessons to un­li­censed oper­a­tors. If there is a prob­lem we can let the fleet man­ager know im­me­di­ately. From the data that we gather, we can iden­tify train­ing points that we can later use to ed­u­cate the fleet,” Swart says. With in­ci­dents, sud­den stops and other er­ratic driv­ing now be­ing mon­i­tored, Swart adds that an­other key com­po­nent of driv­ing be­hav­iour change, is to also let the driver know that they are be­ing mon­i­tored. “The driver has the abil­ity to activate the red flag sys­tem on the cam­era him­self if he needs to alert a fleet man­ager. When the unit records and sends in­for­ma­tion, it also in­di­cates to the driver that this is hap­pen­ing. The driver can then activate the cam to give his ver­sion of events, if that is nec­es­sary,” he continues.

Be­hav­iour change wit­nessed

Ac­cord­ing to Swart, im­prove­ments in fleet be­hav­iour take place rel­a­tively quickly. “We is­sue reg­u­lar re­ports to our clients and we im­me­di­ately ad­dress trends we no­tice aris­ing within a fleet. The fact that driv­ers are alerted when we record data has also helped them to see when they are mak­ing mis­takes. I need to add at this point that our net­work al­lows for recog­ni­tion of good driv­ing be­hav­iour when we reg­is­ter sud­den stops or in­ci­dents, and it be­comes clear that the driver was ac­tu­ally able to suc­cess­fully avoid se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents. In some of our clients, we have seen the first pos­i­tive changes within 60 to 90 days,” he says. “Safer driv­ing is one thing, but there is the fact that over­all fuel ef­fi­ciency tends to im­prove as well. We can’t do much for the client in pre­vent­ing prob­lems like fuel theft, but ef­fi­cient driv­ing does make a marked dif­fer­ence,” he adds. “What we can do is pro­vide both fleet man­agers and un­der­writ­ers with a driver safety rat­ing that each driver earns for pos­i­tive be­hav­iour. It can go a long way to­wards driv­ing down a fleet owner’s in­sur­ance pre­mium when he uses cer­tain driv­ers for spe­cific jobs,” Swart con­cludes. There is, how­ever, one point that Bee­ton raises. He states that there has to be buyin from the driver’s side for the sys­tem to pro­duce re­sults. “One has to keep in mind that the cab of the truck is, for all in­tents and pur­poses, the driver’s of­fice, and a lot of neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment can evolve from the feel­ing of be­ing con­stantly watched while at work,” Bee­ton con­cludes. The re­sults are un­de­ni­able, ac­cord­ing to Bee­ton and it seems to be very much the di­rec­tion in which this in­dus­try will grow.

“We can’t do much for the client in pre­vent­ing prob­lems like fuel theft, but ef­fi­cient driv­ing does make a marked dif­fer­ence.”

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