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The Do's and Don'ts of Telemetics

Telematics can provide incredible insights to fleet managers about the productivity and safety of their drivers and fleet. Even better, telematics that incorporate machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) can help fleet managers predict and make impactful business decisions

Since there are so many data sets available to fleet managers, implementing some best practices is key to help maximize the functionality of telematics systems and ensure efficient data management. 

How can you do this, you might ask? Here are some dos and don’ts of telematics to help you and your fleet managers stay on the right track.

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Focus on driver safety by implementing a driver coaching system and rewarding good performance

Data gathered from telematics devices can provide important insights into driver behavior. Using AI and predictive analytics, telematics devices are able to track and highlight both positive and negative driving patterns and suggest necessary modifications for improvement. 

You or your fleet manager can then discuss the recommended adjustments with your drivers, with a focus on increasing safety on the roads and minimizing the risk of accidents. A driver coaching program is a great way to facilitate road safety discussions and state expectations, and the program should incorporate both written and verbal communication.

Additionally, it will be important to recognize the drivers who maintain safe driving behavior and be sure to reward them (whether it be a cash bonus, gift card, etc.). This will reinforce performance as well as demonstrate that the company appreciates the actions of each individual driver. This can help mitigate driver turnover, and more importantly, decrease the risk associated with poor driving.

Monitor the data collected regularly and take corrective action promptly

By consistently monitoring your telematics system's data, you can easily identify crucial driving patterns or potential productivity and safety concerns. Additionally, with this proactive approach, you are demonstrating that your company is serious about driver safety and performance, as well as your driver coaching program.

Frequent monitoring allows companies to maintain top-notch customer service since having these detailed insights on productivity and vehicle conditions can allow managers to anticipate and prevent foreseeable fleet-related issues that may impact delivery completion rates throughout the supply chain. 

As such, if any concerning patterns arise, act in a timely manner — don’t wait until the end of the week or month to review the generated telematics data report and address matters. Take advantage of the real-time data insights provided by your telematics systems as these immediate data points can be proactively used to address issues surrounding fuel usage, routing, delivery delays, and even inconsistencies with time spent on sites.

Furthermore, newer telematics systems allow you to customize your notification preferences. By setting up custom alerts in your system, you can be notified in real-time when issues arise and fix them before the problem persists long enough to be increasingly harmful to your bottom line or employee safety.

Clearly define and communicate the key metrics that you want to track

While we’re not suggesting you obsess over each tiny data set, do pay attention to details. Telematics can provide fleet managers with a great deal of data, so it’s imperative to have defined goals and an overall operational plan. Clearly outline specific benchmarks in driver productivity and efficiency, safety, fleet maintenance and other business-related goals. By focusing on data aligned with your specific goals, you can fine-tune and make informed decisions that significantly impact your established criteria in a meaningful manner.

Further to this point, be intentional with your internal communication plan and be transparent in sharing with employees which key performance indicators will be measured when they are hired. Then, have managers and team leads set clear expectations upfront regarding productivity and safety. Fleet managers can cultivate driver engagement in safety coaching programs and performance feedback reviews by maintaining consistent communication with employees. Establishing an efficient and accessible system for employees to provide feedback and address concerns further encourages their active participation.

Another communication approach would be to start small and only focus on the most impactful metrics at first. Tracking only important data points first — such as idling rates, delivery times and basic driving behaviors — can prevent drivers from feeling overwhelmed and heavily monitored when adopting a new telematics system, and fleet managers can expand upon the initial list of tracked metrics as time goes on.


Rely on telematics as the only way to evaluate employees and identify bad drivers

While it is important to carefully analyze collected data, using this as the sole form of driver evaluation could lead to distrust between managers and employees. There may have been extenuating circumstances, such as traffic delays or road accidents, that caused a reduction in driver efficiency, so make sure to review the entire situation before labeling someone as a bad driver. As discussed in the “dos,” a holistic approach to employee evaluation is rooted in open communication. By having conversations with customers, coworkers and, most importantly, the driver in question, you will gain a more accurate representation of an employee’s performance.

Use telematics to micromanage or scare drivers

No one wants to feel like they’re always being watched. Indeed, constant surveillance can just cause additional stress and anxiety about driver performance. 

Additionally, don’t report every single event that could be construed as non-safe, such as one-off instances of a rolling stop and speeding downhill. Doing so could potentially lead to “spamming” the driver and minimize the effectiveness of your system. Worse, this can create tension between employees and managers. Instead, focus on patterns of concerning behaviors or unsafe driving events rather than one-time occurrences.

Monitor live streams at all times

Streaming footage can be incredibly useful in playing back accidents or incidents, however, it’s not an ideal tool for casual monitoring. Although smart dashboard cameras may capture every minute of driving time, recordings are only activated and saved when triggered by an incident or anomaly. As such, watching live streams of your drivers is not necessary, as all important driving events are captured using artificial intelligence technology.

Do telematics right

Telematics have a lot to offer you and your fleet managers and following best practices will help you get the most out of your system. From driver coaching and safety programs to productivity tracking to business benchmarks, telematics can provide insights into almost every area of fleet management. Additionally, smart data management and applications can help you maximize the functionality of your system. By following the dos and avoiding the don’ts we’ve listed here, telematics will turbocharge your fleet’s success. 

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