Telematics and the problem of too much information

Telematics and the problem of too much information

A recent article published in Fleetworld highlights some of the problems associated with data accumulated through the use of telematics systems. Of course, it’s not surprising that these systems are becoming increasingly popular in a world that’s obsessed with data collection, as they allow fleet managers more insight into the way their drivers behave on the road than has ever been possible before. However, the article points out that this information has the potential to be a significant burden with serious consequences if it isn’t handled in the right way.

As we all know, telematics systems collect data. This means they help identify problems, but what they don’t do is actually solve them and often, managers don’t have the time or expertise to interpret or act upon that data. The difficulty with this is that if a driver has an accident and the data shows a history of erratic or unacceptable driving, management could face legal repercussions for not acting on this information earlier.

 

The article explains some of the issues that come with the management of this data, advising that the company can be held accountable for bad driver behaviour under certain circumstances. When a driver has an accident, if it is discovered that the telematics system has recorded their risky behaviour on the road previously, the company is questioned on why this information wasn’t brought to the driver’s attention, and why the appropriate actions weren’t taken to stop it from happening again.

However, it can be a complicated, arduous task for fleet management trying to sift through all the data returned from the telematics systems – in fact, 67% of fleet managers say their business would benefit from advice on how to use their telematics data. The problem is, telematics provides management with information on driving events, but that is all. The onus is on the company to follow up on any infringements and enforce the appropriate consequences, meaning they have to be aware of all the latest regulations. Otherwise, they could find themselves in court, defending why they didn’t make use of the vast amounts of data they had accumulated.

According to the RAC Telematics Report (2016), 65% of businesses use telematics systems in their vehicles. This means there’s a huge amount of data being collected on a daily basis that needs to be analysed and interpreted by fleet managers before it can be useful. In Fleetworld’s article, Nick Walker, RAC Telematics Managing Director, pointed out the potential problem for fleet managers, who can easily become overwhelmed by all the data. He says:

“Telematics produces reams of data – if there is an accident and the driver is shown to be speeding before, then the company may have to answer more questions.

“As an employer, you also have a duty of care towards your staff when dealing with the information being generated. For example, if a driver breaks the speed limit or is involved in an accident, the information will immediately be sent to the fleet manager, or whoever is set up to receive the data.”

ACFO chairman John Pryor spoke about the importance of making sure the data is handled appropriately:

“If you have a speeding driver, what do you do with the information? If you’re not going to do something, then why have telematics in the first place? Are you then culpable as well? There are also insurance issues as well as corporate manslaughter legislation – ‘you did nothing with the data… why not?’.”

Here at Lightfoot, we fully understand the issues and limitations of traditional telematics systems, which is why we developed a device that overcomes them. Lightfoot vindicates good drivers, coaches weaker drivers to improve and displays relevant, post-improvement data to management in a straightforward, accessible format.

Unlike normal telematics systems, Lightfoot was created not to collect data, but to actually solve the underlying problem directly by improving the way people drive with virtually no management involvement. It uses both verbal and visual feedback in the vehicle to provide the driver with gentle nudges when their driving style is inefficient or unsafe, coaching them to improve their driving style with real-time feedback, rather than data that must be analysed retrospectively.

In addition to this, it provides management with usable information that takes little interpretation (click here to read more about how Lightfoot works). Managers receive regular reports that display how long the drivers have spent in each zone (green, amber and red), and the number of penalties they have received for any infringements.