Essential insights

Empowering your drivers with the tools for success. By Damian Penney

No one could have predicted the strain that commercial drivers would face in 2020. Unlike seasonal peaks which can be prepared and planned for, the pandemic triggered a panic buying frenzy which created intense pressure for drivers to get goods from A to B. With another lockdown well underway [at time of writing], that heightened sense of urgency has returned. With the pressure mounting, it’s never been more important to keep our roads – and our drivers – safe.

More and more fleet managers are recognizing drivers as their most important asset and empowering them with the tools to make good decisions out on the roads. This includes providing in-the-moment audible vehicle alerts that allow drivers to self-correct, but also sharing ‘big picture’ insights about patterns in behavioral trends, through conversations between managers and drivers.

By placing driver safety and empowerment at the heart of their programs, fleet managers can put their drivers in the best possible position to help keep the fleet on track during challenging times.

The power of in-the-moment alerts
Fleet managers know that even the safest, most experienced drivers aren’t exempt from a momentary slip-up. Once we accept this, the most important next step is what we do to help them get back on track as quickly as possible. While traditional telematics can identify G-force triggers such as harsh braking, swerving or speeding, these results tell you the what but not the why. This gap is being filled by powerful technologies such as machine vision and artificial intelligence (MV+AI) which are 4going one step further in providing drivers Driverswith that extra support.

Machine vision essentially acts as a smart set of eyes that scan and recognize both the internal and external environment of the vehicle. Whether it’s a case of mobile phone use or some other sort of distraction, MV identifies a range of driving behaviors while AI determines how risky that behavior is, allowing the most important information to be flagged to the driver or manager.

Your star driver may have a perfect record but, on their first day back after a long break, forget to click their seatbelt as they return to the vehicle following a delivery. Much like a friend sitting in the passenger seat, MV+AI will kick in, cueing an audio alert that will enable the driver to self-correct in a matter of seconds.

Fleet managers can also use technologies like MV+AI as an opportunity to reward good behavior. For example, video footage may reveal a driver reacting quickly to a momentary lapse, minimizing potential risk and avoiding any escalation.

Putting technology in the hands of the driver
As well as responding to in-moment alerts, it’s important that drivers have the opportunity to review their overall driving style over time, including where any repeating behaviors may be creeping in.

One of the ways this fleet managers can do this is by giving drivers access to 12-second video clips which they can review on their own, wherever and whenever they like. This is a golden opportunity to really see what happened and place the risk more firmly in the driver’s consciousness. For example, a driver may not have registered that they were following the vehicle in front too closely as it was happening. However, watching themselves back on video and seeing where a potentially risky behavior occurred is a much more direct and effective way of communicating what happened – allowing the driver to become more aware of their actions.

One of the biggest benefits of self-review is its flexibility. There’s no need to wait for a formal coaching session to be scheduled. Instead, drivers can simply log on to a computer or mobile device anywhere that there’s a cellular connection.

Seeing the bigger picture
As a manager, it’s not just about the behavior of one driver, but understanding the bigger impact of these behaviors too. By analyzing past data and seeing where patterns occur, you can predict and manage future collision risk exposure to your fleet.

For example, you might uncover a trend that shows that drivers who are work nights are more likely to be distracted by a mobile phone while driving. This would be a flag to take a closer look at what the cause of that might be. Perhaps the driver is facing pressure to get home quickly and is texting family who want to know that they are safe and will return home soon.

The more quality data you have, the easier it becomes to see these trends on a bigger scale – and feel confident that they are accurate. At Lytx, our database is meaningful because it consists of more than 120 billion miles of driving data from more than one million commercial drivers worldwide. This grows by more than 140,000 new driving events each day, further training and improving its algorithms. From this data, actionable insights are then shared with managers, helping them avoid any heavy lifting by removing the need to trawl through hours of video footage.

For safer fleets, we need these insights to be shared correctly. As well as providing managers with easy-to-read reports detailing incidents of risky driving, it’s essential that we place drivers themselves at the heart of the process. By placing some of this power into the hands of the drivers we can increase co-operation, share the responsibility and have an approach to fleet management that is altogether more agile and responsive. Only then we really achieve lasting behavior change that sticks.

Damian Penney is Vice President of Lytx Europe. Lytx is a leading provider of machine vision and artificial intelligence-powered video telematics, analytics, safety, and productivity solutions for fleets. Its customizable solutions harness the power of video to empower drivers and fleets to be safer and more efficient, productive and profitable so they can thrive in today’s competitive environment.