Real world driver behaviour could soon become a key part of the fleet management agenda, says fleet software market leader CFC Solutions.
The company says that having a better understanding of how drivers are actually using vehicles day to day should be a important factor in fleet decision making – from vehicle choice to driver training – but that this information is infrequently sought or recorded.
Neville Briggs, managing director at CFC, said: “Fleet management is traditionally event-based – managers get involved when there is a need for an action such as maintenance or when something unforeseen such as an accident occurs but there is almost an unseen world between those events which is actual vehicle use. Even if some information is being recorded, such as through telematics, it is generally used to record events rather than analyse what happens between them.
“This is a missed opportunity because, for example, having a profile of the kinds of roads that a particular driver typically covers could be successfully recorded, analysed and used in decision making. A driver who spends 80% of their time on the motorway has different needs and faces different demands to one that spends 80% of their time handling appointments around urban areas. This type of information could be used to potentially make appropriate vehicle choices, spend more efficiently on maintenance, reduce fuel use and even make accidents less likely.
“It is not just road type information that could be of use but areas such as when a driver makes journeys, how long they tend to last, even average speeds. All of this could help fleet managers build up a picture of real world fleet use.”
Briggs said that the information needed to carry out this kind of driver profiling was not easy to obtain although some fleets could already access it from the data generated through use of fleet management software and telematics systems.
He said: “The technology has existed for some time for the production of ‘global’ fleet management systems that can record detailed driver information through telematics and then combine it with the detailed data handled by fleet software, which would also provide detailed analysis. This would mean you could produce a comprehensive picture of your fleet that combined real world company car and van information with highly effective desktop management tools. The potential benefits are considerable.
“Very few companies have attempted to do this for reasons of cost and complexity but in the absence of this kind of technology, a simple but effective step could be to ask drivers to periodically complete diaries that detail their working week, showing the kind of journeys they undertake, on what kind of roads, along with times and distances. Few fleets do this and then analyse the data but it is a worthwhile exercise.”
Briggs added that the key trends in fleet management since the start of the recession – lower costs, better efficiency, reduced emissions and improved duty of care – would inevitably cause fleet managers to gradually seek to learn more about real world vehicle and driver profiling. At this point, global fleet management systems that combined telematics and fleet software may become more viable.
He said: “To continue to make gains, an obvious way forward for fleet managers is to seek to fill in the gaps in the information that they hold about their fleet. By gathering data about the real world use of their fleet, they will be able to make better informed decisions that create cost and efficiency gains.”