Everyone has driven down the highway and has seen that sign on the back of a vehicle that reads, “How’s my driving? Call 1-800-555-XXXX.” Those signs have been a part of the driving landscape for many years and are still in use today as part of the burgeoning industry that gathers vehicle use information. The new term used today for electronically gathering and reporting vehicle use information is “vehicle telematics.” The technology employed today has grown far beyond the simple bumper sticker of the past. Anyone wanting to use vehicle telematics has many options to choose from. Equipment can range from simple devices that plug into a motor vehicle’s event data recorder (EDR) – an automotive “black box” – to large units mounted on the vehicle’s roof that send real-time information to the data monitoring company.
What is being done with this information? Depending on the level of information collected, fleet managers using vehicle telematics can realize multiple benefits. With the help of vehicle telematics, a business can:
- Spot trends in fuel usage to improve efficiency and reduce costs
- Pinpoint and track vehicle locations
- View and analyze delivery routes for more efficient routing
- Identify unsafe driving habits so that you can provide additional driver training; improved driving habits can lead to fewer vehicle accidents and reduced automobile insurance costs
Towers Watson, an international risk and capital management company, asserts that with fleets, crash reductions are well in excess of 50 percent by using telematics. (Source: Towers Watson.)
Those opposed to the use of vehicle telematics see it as another step toward the time when everything we do is monitored and recorded. However, business owners and their employees have an obligation to protect company property and their customers’ property and to research ways to reduce operating costs. Vehicle telematics can be an effective tool to help fulfill these obligations.
Some insurance companies make vehicle telematics programs available to their policyholders. Independent vehicle telematics companies also market their services directly to the public. Do your research. See what is available.
If you are interested in a vehicle telematics program, the first step is to educate yourself about available options. There are many places to look for information; do your own searches on the Internet or speak with others in your industry. And talk to your local, independent insurance agent for coverage recommendations.