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Telematics Benefits for the Greater Good

There is a side of telematics that is one of the industry’s best-kept secrets. If more widely known, it would make big news. The fact that’s not well-publicized is how telematics can be used for the greater good.
Many understand how telematics can help businesses increase productivity, lower operational costs, increase fuel efficiency, improve vehicle health, strengthen compliance, and improve customer service (the list goes on and on). It’s time that people know about the tremendous potential of telematics for making the world a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous place. The benefits go beyond fleet owners, operators, and drivers — to society at large.

The data that can be collected through telematics is incredibly valuable for identifying trends and making improvements. What is especially unique about telematics data, as captured with a platform like GEOTAB, is the great variety and vast amount of it that can be captured.
Rich Data, Rich Rewards
If rich data from telematics can help optimize one vehicle, imagine the insight and benefits from scaling up deployment to hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of vehicles across the country.
Making the Roads Safer for Everyone
The safety benefits of telematics cannot be overstated. Information collected from vehicles can be used to help understand aggressive driving, harsh braking, vehicles speeding vs. the posted speed limit, and identify where accidents happen.
How telematics can improve safety on the roads for everyone:

  • Vehicle in-reverse activities are one of the main causes of parking lot accidents. Telematics technology can detect when the vehicle is reversing and notify the driver to be extra cautious.
  • Driver coaching, either through buzzers or even spoken word notifications (such as GO TALK live in-vehicle verbal feedback solution), can make drivers more conscious when they are at the wheel. Immediate alerts can be given to slow down, or to buckle a seat belt.
  • Drivers can track their personal level of risk and safety with score-carding for factors such as speeding, seat belt use, harsh braking, acceleration, and more.

On a larger scale, accident data could be used to identify the most dangerous intersections in our cities. Sharing that kind of information with municipalities and departments of transportation could pinpoint areas needing improvement, and help governments make investments where it will count the most.
Using telematics for predictive analytics, such as predicting traffic, will help drivers avoid congested roadways and potential hazard. Information on speeding or harsh deceleration, turning radius, and idling without ignition off, can be analyzed to tell a story about what is happening on the road. Giving drivers the ability to know if there are traffic jams up ahead, gives them time to safely pick an alternative route. While GPS location on a smartphone is providing speed and location information to products like Google Maps, combining telematics data such as ambient air temperature with other data sets such services from the weather networks, opens up other possibilities for safety, such as alerting drivers to storms or icy roads ahead.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
In business today, safety is still the primary driver, but more and more fleets are beginning to prioritize their fuel efficiency and carbon footprint. Fuel consumption is something that translates easily from business to consumers because of its impact on the pocketbook. Who doesn’t want to save money and help save the environment?
Telematics can help reduce fuel use in several ways:

  • Improve route choices.
  • Tighter audit of fuel purchased vs fuel consumed.
  • Tracking and managing speed, aggressive driving, idling time.
  • Maintaining vehicle engine performance.

Worldwide, the movement to reducing carbon emissions is growing. In February 2015, President Obama signed an Executive Order to cut Federal GHG emissions 40 percent over the next decade from 2008 levels. Part of the government’s goal includes reducing the GHG emissions of the Federal fleet of 650,000 vehicles. More recently, at the Paris Climate Conference, 195 nations confirmed their willingness to take action and invest money to lower carbon emissions. Fulfilling the commitment to a greener future will require governments, industry, and individuals to adopt numerous innovative and creative solutions, such as telematics technology.
Telematics can assist in this effort. By driving safer and less aggressive, we can reduce the amount of fuel that a vehicle will burn in any given year. The data can also empower consumers by validating the carbon emission and fuel efficiency claims of car manufacturers.
Reducing Costs Due to Accidents
Telematics can also reduce insurance and liability costs, by reducing the number of impacts and accidents on the road. These days, a small fender bender can end up costing R15,000 to repair, so this would be a welcome benefit to many.
Telematics helps lower accident-related costs in four areas:

  • Minimizing personal injury by speed and seat belt use coaching in vehicle.
  • Reducing vehicle damage by coaching positive reversing and forward driving habits.
  • Improving general liability rates resulting from monthly risk management scorecards.
  • Helping to manage driver-related workers’ compensation claims.

With telematics coaching tools, we can encourage safer driving habits, such as: driving within the posted speed limit; accelerating and braking smoothly; and backing into parking spaces instead of reversing out of them. In the fleet world, we actually train drivers to reverse in when they arrive at a destination — it’s much safer and reduces the risk of accidents greatly.
Telematics technology can be of use after an accident as well, if, unfortunately, one occurs. Instant accident notifications and detailed second-by-second data make it possible to take crucial and timely action steps. For example, if a vehicle has been hit while parked, GEOTAB’s unique recording technology can help prove no-fault to the insurance provider.
The Future of Telematics: Preserving the Benefits for the Greater Good
The challenge going forward will be to balance the benefit for public safety, with the need for privacy. This is a challenge that all technology and Internet of Things companies will face going forward. As cars and trucks become increasingly connected with devices, with other cars and trucks, and even with infrastructure, vehicles will be generating a great amount of information. GEOTAB is taking a leadership role in identifying best practices to secure the collection, transmission, storage, and accessibility of information from vehicles.
Whether you’re a sales person behind the wheel, a courier delivering goods, a trucker trying to deal with hours of service regulations, or even an office worker commuting home for the day, telematics will help define your relationship to your business or personal vehicle, the roads you drive, the people you visit, the air we breathe, the public transportation options you choose, and the expectation we all share that safety and health is the most important possession we have to manage.
Credit: GEOTAB Inc.
Author: Colin Sutherland, Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing