Delivery businesses have traditionally used vehicle tracking systems to manage their fleet from the office, gaining visibility and control over assets that are on the road and out of sight. With the widespread adoption of smartphones, there is now an opportunity to use advances in mobile technology to better engage with and empower drivers as part of a wider telematics solution. Steve Thomas, Managing Director of Ctrack, discusses how fleet operations can take advantage of advances in apps to encourage drivers to take on greater responsibility and increasingly manage themselves.

There are certainly direct benefits to be achieved from using a mobile driver app in conjunction with your vehicle tracking system. If implemented correctly it will be a useful support tool for employees – simplifying tasks that they already undertake manually – while providing a highly efficient way of capturing critical operational data and communicating feedback. However, ease of use is critical, so it is all about having a solution that requires the fewest number of actions to achieve the maximum results.

Vehicle Checks

All delivery operations have a responsibility to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy, so drivers are often expected to complete daily or weekly safety inspections. These are typically performed manually, so there is often limited proof that checks have actually taken place with paper work often going missing and no credible audit trail. Simplifying tasks such as this that are already required will be welcomed by most drivers and companies can gain peace of mind that duty of care procedures are being followed.

Providing an electronic form via a mobile app can provide a useful to help drivers perform their daily safety inspections simply and effectively, while providing fleet managers and administrators with online visibility of all completed and missed checks. For anything critical, the driver can leave additional comment, with an alert sent immediately via email. Meanwhile, minor issues, such as bumps, scrapes and scuffs, can be logged and a report supplied to an in-house or third-party service centre, so they can be addressed when a vehicle next has scheduled maintenance.

Driver Behaviour Feedback

Most vehicle tracking systems now capture a wide range of driver behaviour data to help reduce risk and encourage responsible driving, but how does a company communicate this back to the driver? Many companies now use detailed reports to target the worst performing drivers, but beyond this there is often a disconnect between the office and the wider remote workforce.

A mobile app offers a highly-effective way of giving feedback with a Driver Score that provides a clear indication of ongoing performance. An individual score, calculated using real-time and historical telematics data, can be viewed alongside a company average as well as a breakdown across harsh acceleration, harsh braking, harsh cornering, speeding and excess idling with a peer comparison for each. This added insight will quickly translate to safety and efficiency benefits as employees are encouraged to improve their driving styles, but for even greater returns it can also be linked to an incentive scheme that rewards the best or most improved performers.

Mileage Capture

Capturing accurate data is important for any business where private mileage is allowed. Differentiating between work and personal journeys is essential when calculating and verifying expenses or demonstrating HMRC benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax compliance.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense for drivers to be able to confirm the purpose of a journey at click of a button via their smartphone, which is then automatically captured by the tracking system providing a complete audit trail. It is always worth checking that a system is also able to hide private mileage details to ensure it meets with drivers’ requirements regarding privacy and data protection.

By integrating this automated process with a payroll system can also ensure expenses are paid on time without any back-office intervention, so drivers are reimbursed without delay while companies significantly reduce administration. Having an accurate view of mileage can also reduce fuel expense claims, with a 10-20% saving fairly typical and even 30% not unheard of. It is worth bearing in mind that a driver rounding up a journey from 50 to 60 miles may not seem a huge issue, but an equivalent increase across all journeys would represent a 20% increase in costs.