Nick Lloyd, Road Safety Manager, ROSPA

BY NICK LLOYD, ROAD SAFETY MANAGER, ROSPA

Telemetry use is on the rise throughout the motoring industry – by insurance companies to monitor drivers, by individuals to help lower their insurance premiums, and by fleet managers to help their drivers become safer on the road.

If, as a driver or fleet manager, you are not already using telematics as part of your job, then RoSPA highly recommends you take it into consideration. Reducing risk in you

r driving or your fleet is not only a duty to your staff and the public, but can also help immensely with overheads and company reputation. As a charity, we would like to see more time and money invested into telematics to help the country’s young and inexperienced drivers to become safer, and also within the fleet market. Currently it is estimated that about a quarter of all crashes involve someone who is driving for work purposes.

Employers have duties under health and safety law for on-the-road work activities. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) states you must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You must also ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving activities.

There is a balance to be struck between the level of risk and the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or resources. With the advancement in technology, telematics can now provide a practical tool for companies to help protect their employees, the public, and reputation in the event of a fault-related incident.

However, it should not be seen as a tool which will itself drive down occupational road incidents, and it should be introduced as part of and linked to a range of measures, to include written policy and procedures, consultation with staff, and formalised review and monitoring procedures.

Telematics, or black boxes as they are commonly called, can provide the fleet manager with valuable information as they will highlight consistent poor driving, allowing ‘at risk’ drivers to be targeted with an appropriate intervention ranging from e-learning, theory or practical driver training.

As part of this, dash cams may also be considered. The jury is still out on dash cams – their use in any kind of vehicle is a relatively new phenomenon, so the benefits, or otherwise, are not yet as widely known or discussed in the way the use of telematics is. The police are starting to take notice of their usage, with footage from cameras being used to help convict motorists in cases of bad driving; in August one force even called for drivers to send in footage of others using their mobile phones, so that fines could be issued.

They are also being used to help with police appeals. One particularly famous and recent incident involved the ‘Putney Bridge jogger’, who was caught on a bus’ video feed bumping into a woman and knocking her into the path of a second bus.

Aside from this, they may also help in insurance claim disputes. I saw one video recently in which a ‘moped rider’ appeared from between a row of parked cars, threw his bike to the ground and himself on top of the driver’s bonnet. She could then be seen getting out of the car and remonstrating with him. When she pointed to the dash cam, he promptly picked up his bike and made a hasty retreat (picking up an accomplice, who presumably was ready to act as a ‘witness’, on the way.)

However, work still needs to be done to find out whether they actually make motorists any safer. Of course, drivers may be on their best behaviour if they feel they are constantly being watched, but is this the best incentive? Is an in-vehicle camera likely to be more of a distraction than a safety tool? In an age of increasing data protection measures, personal privacy also has to be a major consideration. How do drivers intend to use the footage once they have it, where and with whom will it be shared, and what recourse to consent do those featured in the video have? All in all, dash cams have the potential to be a valuable tool when used correctly, though we have to ensure we are clear on what they are being used for.

For more information: www.rospa.com