Fleet managers must stay on top of – and harness – technology to stay ahead of the curve, says Andrew Love, ROSPA’s Fleet Safety Consultant

After the Government-issued press release entitled “Green light for lorry ‘platooning’” landed on news desks and in email inboxes back in August, the transport industry – and the wider news agenda – was set atwitter with discussions, debates, and downright slanging matches about the pros and cons of such a move.

“It has the potential to reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency, improve traffic flow and road capacity,” argued some.

“But what about other vehicles wanting to get on or off the motorways?” detractors replied. “There are serious safety issues.”

Whichever side of the fence you find yourself on (and in case you’re interested, RoSPA believes road safety can be enhanced by the measures, provided meticulous research, planning, testing and driver education is carried out) there is no doubt that such technology has the potential to completely and utterly change the face of fleet management.

Technology is progressing apace, across a number of spheres, and it’s imperative that fleet managers and their organisations are harnessing it to their advantage – using it to improve the safety of their employees, and to streamline the way their fleet operates.

Telematics: More than a trend

Undoubtedly the development that is being utilised most widely by, and having the biggest impact on, fleets right now is telematics. The usefulness of this “black box” technology is so widely recognised that insurance companies are using it to assess the ability of their policy holders, while governments around the world are considering introducing it as part of graduated driver licensing schemes.

Early adopters of the technology for their fleets in this country are already reaping the benefits of fitting it into their vehicles, using the data to address any issues and bad habits their drivers may be having. The data collected can also be used to highlight good practice and what the majority of drivers within the group do, to help those who are outside of the “norm” to shift into it. Those that do not shift can be targeted with appropriate interventions.

Meanwhile, there is some incredible technology beginning to emerge to measure driver fatigue, and eye-tracking technology and driver-facing cameras to help monitor what drivers are doing and to see where they might be distracted.

RoSPA’s Driver Profiler

I also have to blow RoSPA’s own trumpet, as we also utilise technology to help companies identify areas for improvement. Earlier this year we released the updated version of our Driver Profiler online tool, used by fleet managers across the country to measure the attitude and behaviour of their drivers.

Designed by our in-house road safety experts, the app focuses on distractions, speed, co-operation, dealing with pressure, violations and journey planning, and through a series of questions, the driver’s history and the type of driving they do is investigated. Dependent upon the individual’s review, the relevant training can then be organised.

Like a platooned HGV keeping pace with the lead vehicle, fleet managers and organisations must keep up with technological advancement to keep their staff, and other road users, as safe as possible. And while we continue to assess and mitigate the unique risks it presents, the possibilities for utilising innovation to our advantage are limitless.

For more information: www.rospa.com