Harness the power of video telematics for improved fleet management
by Jim Rice

As a business owner, you are sending jobsite vehicles on the road every day, and each time they leave your parking lot, they face unforeseen risk. If there is a collision, there is risk of injuries to the driver or others, damage to your vehicles and the possibility of a diminished reputation. A 2014 report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated that collisions involving injuries cost almost $200,000 per incident, not including the bent metal damage or the loss of jobsite productivity. At a small company, just one incident carrying that cost can sink the business.

Taking into account driver behavior and environmental factors, a study by Lytx showed that 54 percent of collisions in the construction industry could have been prevented, compared to 46 percent of incidents in other industries. Whether a collision occurs at a jobsite or on the road, this disparity is cause for concern. With so much at stake, it is important to assess what can be done to prevent such accidents.

Telematics Alone Only Tells Part of the Story

In recent years, business owners and fleet managers have turned to technology, especially telematics solutions, to extract risk from their organizations. Telematics is the part of information technology that transmits data about patterns and driving events using sensors embedded in equipment. It can provide business owners and fleet managers with data on vehicle operation and insights on driving events, painting a picture of how a particular driver or vehicle is performing. But while telematics can be helpful in certain situations, it doesn’t always tell the whole story.

In contrast, video telematics answers why a collision occurred, giving a more complete explanation of the circumstances and the driver’s performance. By integrating and analyzing data from both the telematics sensors and from video, video telematics delivers effective insights that can be used to coach drivers, providing a more powerful and precise solution for driver safety and efficiency. In today’s technology landscape, telematics solutions are not state-of-the-art without the integration of video and video-related data.

Knowing why a driving event happened is an essential component of preventing future collision risks. Video telematics answers the question “Why,” and is delivered with data-backed insights to drive more effective and efficient coaching. Video can add additional insight to tasks like fleet tracking, giving managers the confidence of knowing where specific trouble spots are on routes and why they are trouble spots in the first place.

Construction Has 3 Times More Costly Collisions than Other Industries

Thanks to insights from video telematics, we know that distracted driving, such as cell phone use, is the most commonly observed behavior among drivers in preventable collisions in the construction industry. In more severe collisions—those with the highest potential insurance claims dollars—poor awareness behaviors, such as maintaining a safe following distance, not checking mirrors and not looking far enough ahead, have been identified most often. A study from Lytx that compared driving events in different industries showed that construction and concrete drivers are in three times more serious, costly collisions involving driver distraction.

Two Texas-based companies are prime examples of the positive impact that video telematics can make on the safety culture of a construction company. Houston-based United States Concrete and Dallas-based TXI were each faced with considerable problems regarding the number of collisions and the cost of claims they were dealing with on a yearly basis. For U.S. Concrete, the company was challenged by a rate of 172 collisions per year at a significant cost per claim, without an explanation of why these numbers were so high. At TXI, management knew the business was failing to stay up to date on the latest technology, leading to missed opportunities in improving the fleet’s safety.

In order to address their respective issues, both companies made the transition from traditional telematics solutions to a video telematics program. The results were as follows:

  • In just 1 year, U.S. Concrete was able to reduce vehicle collisions by 30 percent, while seeing a 65-percent reduction in related claims costs.
  • Over the course of 2 years, TXI saw a reduction in vehicle incidents by greater than 90 percent, along with reduced claims costs.

As part of the reduction in claims, both businesses used video to exonerate drivers who were falsely accused in collisions. The companies each implemented stronger driver coaching programs, which strengthened the safety cultures and facilitated more efficient driving behaviors throughout both of their fleets.

Technology is continually changing, and fleet managers have no shortage of options from which to choose. A critical factor to consider is the focus on reducing risk, and the best way to reduce risk is by preventing collisions in the first place. Video telematics, now an essential tool in the construction business owner’s toolkit, helps answer the integral question of why, allowing fleets to address and mitigate the root causes of unsafe driver behavior.