Integrated telematics: An all-in-one fleet safety program

Kinana Hussain
Updated May 25, 2021
trucks on dotted lines with connecting dots
Integrated telematics systems enable fleet managers and field service providers to have faster response times when crashes occur, and greater visibility into driver behavior and vehicle maintenance data.

Safety is paramount for the modern fleet.

On average, 20% of commercial fleets will be involved in an accident this year due to the high number of miles they drive, according to OSHA data.

A typical motorist in the U.S. travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles annually, and each year has a 1-in-15 chance of being involved in a vehicle collision. However, most fleet drivers travel substantially more miles, resulting in even greater exposure to crash risks.

To proactively manage these risks, a growing number of commercial fleet operators and transportation logistics managers have embraced driver safety systems or dash cameras that provide a range of valuable insights into their fleet – from actionable video intelligence to vehicle risk management services that deliver detailed information about crash events in near real time.

Integrated telematics systems enable fleet managers and field service providers to have faster response times when crashes occur, and greater visibility into driver behavior and vehicle maintenance data. These data-driven, actionable insights offer a comprehensive view of vehicles and drivers throughout their routes, helping fleet operators protect drivers, fleets and their bottom line.

Video telematics mean safer fleets
One of the best ways to ensure road and driver safety is to utilize video telematics.

A standard stream-and-store dashcam can show, after the fact, what happened during an incident, assuming a manager has time to search through the DVR footage and match it with telematics data to find the few seconds that matter.

A smart video telematics solution that combines computer vision technology, artificial intelligence and vehicle motion data provides so much more contextual insights that can directly improve safety and coaching efficiency.

While telematics can report the “what” of an incident, smarter, more integrated video technology can tell a fleet manager the “why” by providing a complete picture of what happened before, during and after an incident.

For example, when the telematics edge device identifies an inertial trigger such as harsh braking or harsh cornering, the device tells the camera to save a video clip of the event. That clip is sent to the cloud, where it can be viewed immediately or downloaded to view later. When alerted by these driving exceptions, fleet managers can focus on the incident in context without weeding through endless hours of footage.

The more inertial and vision triggers available with a video telematics solution, the better for driver coaching and overall fleet safety. Triggers can be customized to flag any speed limit and stop sign violations, tailgating, lane drift, harsh braking, acceleration and cornering, allowing organizations the freedom to choose which triggers matter most.

Managers can use these incidents to provide an immersive coaching experience to improve driver behavior and fleet-wide safety. Suddenly, driver coaching goes from cookie cutter to driver-specific, and driving behavior improves.

Conversely, safe habits can also be detected, reinforced and rewarded. Managers can implement video telematics solutions to encourage good behavior by creating driver scorecards and positive recognition programs inside fleets. With this kind of positive reinforcement, drivers actively engage in improving their statistics.

Video telematics tell the true story
The vast majority of car-truck accidents are often the fault of the driver of the passenger car, yet many assume the commercial truck driver is in the wrong unless evidence shows otherwise.

In the absence of sophisticated video safety systems, fleet managers can spend a considerable amount of time and resources identifying the cause behind an incident, hampering their ability to protect drivers from risks such as fraudulent claims.

Fleet operators are well-insured, and in many states are strictly liable for losses caused by drivers, making them prime targets for insurance fraud. Meanwhile, nuclear verdicts (where jury penalties exceed $10 million) threaten both fleet owners and insurers.

Video telematics provides data-driven evidence that can play a crucial role when it comes to exonerating drivers and mitigating fraud. A fully integrated telematics solution can accurately detect crashes, alert operators to the event, and almost immediately upload video footage of the critical seconds before, during, and after impact.

These accurate situational details leave little room for doubt and can help companies understand the root cause of an accident. If a car slams on the brakes in front of the fleet vehicle or swerves into its lane, irrefutable video evidence can protect fleet drivers from being unfairly blamed for the event.

When cameras detect a visual trigger from another motorist on the road, drivers can prove they exercised safety protocols on the road by leveraging video evidence to exonerate themselves. Exoneration would also help operators protect a company’s reputation, and you can’t really put a price on that.

Rapid access to data-driven evidence means expedited collision investigations and faster claims processing. A more efficient claims process can lower overall fleet costs related to collisions and may also help reduce insurance premiums, all thanks to fleet telematics.

Fleet maintenance to keep vehicles safe
No matter how cautious and safe a fleet’s drivers are, ensuring overall safe operation begins with proper vehicle maintenance.

Fleet management applications that deliver a dashboard of data insights captured from a telematics device can alert fleet managers to low battery levels, excessive hours of use, engine fault lights or other potential mechanical problems that could lead to unsafe vehicles.

They can track when maintenance service is needed, enabling managers to schedule and prioritize repairs and regular maintenance checks. These customizable alerts provide fleet managers with greater visibility into vehicle operations to potentially prevent mechanical failures, keep drivers safe, and maintain vehicle uptime. Proper, timely maintenance also reduces the chances of vehicles breaking down on the side of the road, which can pose a safety threat to stranded drivers.

The bottom line
Fleet managers are often forced to switch between several applications, giving them a highly fragmented view of daily operations, wasting valuable time and increasing frustration.

Fully integrated fleet management solutions provide fleets of all sizes with a unified view of their operations to manage a broader range of vehicles and drivers more effectively.

Data is only as good as the sense you can make of it. Actionable intelligence, delivered in near real time, is what moves the needle.

A fully integrated video intelligence solution gives fleet managers a competitive advantage through increased visibility of their operations. This level of visibility can open up the doors to strategically and digitally transform their operations for the long term and, ultimately, secure their role in the evolution of fleet operations.

Kinana Hussain is vice president of product line management at CalAmp.