Implementing telematics while minimizing driver resistance


Implementing telematics while minimizing driver resistance

Source: FleetAnswers Telematics provide significant benefits to fleet managers in helping control costs and monitor driver behavior, but many drivers respond to the implementation of telematics systems and electronic tracking devices or technology as if it is an invasion of privacy. Learning how to implement vehicle monitoring systems in a positive way can help managers avoid pushback from drivers.

Known Benefits of Telematics Push Fleet Managers to Implement Systems

It's the benefits of telematics and GPS technology that often pushes fleet managers to add systems in spite of resistance. Outside of the obvious benefit of GPS technology, one of the most important benefits is monitoring driver behavior. Not only does this improve fuel efficiency, but it also provides proof against false claims made against drivers involved in crashes.

Dan Williams of Missouri Gas Energy claims diagnostics as another benefit. He indicated that his telematics system is able to alert him to diagnostic codes even before technicians notice the check engine light. "This saves a lot of repair money through discard of junk-codes and keeping repair vendors honest," he indicated.

Chris Burgeson, fleet manager for the City of Napa, indicated that the implementation of telematics for their vehicles helped spot problems in vehicles that could impact safety and performance, often before the driver was aware. "This allows us to call in a vehicle that may have subtle problems not yet noticed by the operator but still critical," he stated.

Strategies to Reduce Resistance

Fleet managers are quick to see the benefits of telematics, but drivers don't always respond positively to these systems. In one study published by Business Car in the UK, nearly 43 percent of fleet managers surveyed stated they had a "significant amount" of resistance when implementing telematics systems into their fleets, with another 35.7 percent reporting at least a "little" resistance. In other words, the majority of fleets surveyed had resistance of some sort.

So what can a fleet manager do to implement this valuable system without this resistance? While avoiding all resistance may not be possible, it can be limited with the right approach when implementing telematics, electronic tracking technology, or other vehicle monitoring systems.

Dan Williams saw his share of resistance, and even drivers attempting to override the systems, at first. After six years, drivers had embraced the systems and were even calling to check diagnostics. He says, "the appropriate approach is really driven by company culture . . . if you are using diagnostic data for asset management, you really have to be pragmatic about how and on what to intervene."

Having a policy that clearly states the purpose and use of the system or technology as well as driver responsibility can help communicate the company’s expectations better. Burgeson explains “The company/agency should have each potential driver acknowledge that they have no expectation of privacy regarding the information gathered through the use of this technology.” The City of Napa circulates a policy to all their potential drivers to inform them of the purpose and use of the technology. The policy also addresses tampering with the hardware.

Using the system as a positive as well as a negative can also help. Craig Hitchcok of Guidepoint Systems found that using the system to reward drivers who had the least number of offenses, and posting the weekly driver report in a common area, helped create a positive peer pressure about driver safety and fuel efficiency. This created changes without much intervention from management.

Today's drivers have a lot to keep track of, and any tool that helps them do so more safely is welcome once it is understood, indicates Matt Curtis of TomTom Business Solutions. Once drivers realize that the systems are going to improve overall safety, while also potentially earning them rewards for positive behaviors, they are often more willing to embrace telematics.

In the end, the approach needs to be one of coaching, not reprimanding. While there is often some driver turnover when implementing a system, the end result, which is more efficient and attentive drivers, creates a positive environment for all members of the fleet.

This article is a follow up to part 3 of our technologies series where we explained how fleet managers can use the wealth of data about driver behavior to encourage better driving habits.

In part 1 of our technology series, we explained how green dashboards can help improve driver behavior and fuel economy in electric and hybrid vehicles.

In part 2, we explored the use of free smart phone apps to maximize vehicle efficiency and their effects on driving behavior.

Visit the News Section for more on our Technology series or join FleetAnswers to receive timely updates of new industry reports, case studies, survey results, industry news and articles.