The growing use of vehicle telematics?

The growing use of vehicle telematics

When it comes to the use of electronic technology in heavy goods vehicles, things have certainly moved on from the simple tachograph to record drivers’ working hours, to the installation of geographical positioning systems (GPS) to keep track of the vehicle and its trailer, and a host of even more complicated and sophisticated technology.

This combination of electronic technology, vehicles and their drivers is called vehicle telematics. Given the ubiquitous presence of cutting edge technology in just about every other area of our lives, it probably comes as no surprise that vehicle telematics are being increasingly used to make HGV driving safer and more efficient.

Key uses

A recent article in Fleet News, for instance, described the way in which telematics are helping to make the driving of an HGV safer, not only for the drivers themselves, but also for other road users. Stressing that telematics alone are unlikely to provide the only solution to safer performance, the author of the article added that hands on training of drivers remains as important an ingredient.

Nevertheless, some of the benefits which telematic systems have helped to bring about include:

  • a 90% reduction in harsh braking, wild cornering and speeding by drivers;
  • accidents may be reduced by up to 50%; and
  • fuel economies of up to 9% may be achieved.

Fuel economies are clearly an important factor for any business operator, but accident reduction, safer driving and the protection of other road users are likely to see result in considerably wider and more fundamental benefits. Indeed, if the use of vehicle telematics continues to spread and continues to achieve some of the safety results that have already emerged, haulage insurance itself may also recognise their use in helping to mitigate loss or damage.

A further article – this time in the Road Haulage Association’s newsletter of July – concentrates on the operating economies that may be realised through the implementation of vehicle telematics.

It urges operators to shop around carefully and if possible to see systems that are already up and running in other companies’ fleets. In order to compare the costs of competing telematics systems on a like for like basis, the article also suggests that operators calculate costs on a truck by truck basis.

It echoes the advice in the Fleet News article by stressing the importance of targeted driver training rather than a reliance on a vehicle telematics system alone – which is unlikely to prove any single one size fits all solution in itself. The implementation of vehicle telematics is a development to which all senior members of the company need ideally to sign up – although getting drivers on board with some of the fuel saving economies might be achieved by offering them bonuses in line with volumes of fuel that are saved.

The future of vehicle telematics

There are so many technological innovations that fall under the umbrella term of vehicle telematics that it is difficult to predict just where they might be headed over the next few years. There is clearly a link, however, between the technologically armed vehicle and the driverless cars that have caught a good deal of media attention. The Telegraph recently asserted that telematics is a growing innovation area in modern technology.