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5 Ways Fleet Management Can Help With Accident Management

It may be the most obvious statement in the world, but for fleet businesses, road accidents are best avoided. They can rack up repair costs, drive up insurance premiums, cause reputational damage, force your vehicles into downtime for as long as it takes to fix them, and - worst of all - put your drivers at risk of injury, or even fatality.

Unfortunately, accidents are inevitable – you just won't be able to avoid them completely. Fortunately, though, vehicle tracking and fleet management systems can help you to prevent as many accidents as possible, and better manage them when they do happen. Here's how.

1. Monitor and improve your drivers' behaviour

According to research from RegTransfers, driver error is the biggest cause of road accidents in the UK. In 2017, for example, 17,845 accidents were caused by reckless or careless driving, while 11,570 happened because someone was driving too fast. In the same year, 6,264 accidents were caused by sudden braking, and 3,317 were the result of aggressive driving behaviour.

Any vehicle tracking system worth its salt will monitor dangerous behaviours, including harsh braking, sudden acceleration, and speeding. It'll keep track of how often your drivers commit them, and even give them a score based on how safely they drive. Many systems also send real-time alerts directly to you when your drivers do something risky.

With this insight in hand, you'll be empowered to communicate with your drivers and ask them to drop their unsafe habits, or even arrange safety training for those who need it. Your vehicle tracking system might be able to help here, too – some cut out the middleman and simply send in-cab coaching direct to your drivers' smartphones. Say hello to safe drivers who are much less likely to get into accidents.

2. Integrate with your tachographs

Recording driving time and distance, tachographs are legal must-haves for the majority of UK fleets. They help drivers to stay compliant with EU drivers' hours regulations, ensuring they don't become fatigued and cause accidents. Shockingly, one in eight UK drivers admit that they've fallen asleep at the wheel before - the tachograph requirement aims to prevent this in commercial fleets.

When integrated with a fleet management system, tachographs provide an even easier, more immediate way to check in on your drivers' work statuses and remaining journey hours and distances, alongside all your other fleet data.

Rather than downloading your tachograph data from a separate program at the end of each day, you'll be able to view it in real-time on your wider fleet management dashboard, as just one part of a comprehensive overview of your fleet's performance. The result? A sleek system that's better optimised to help you stop your drivers from becoming overtired and dangerous.

3. Help recovery services to find your vehicle immediately

Vehicle tracking systems do just that: they keep tabs on all of your vehicles, using GPS tech to locate them on a digital map. Think Google maps, but instead of that little blue dot that shows you where you are, you'll see multiple "dots" that represent where each of your vehicles are.

While a handful of systems will be able to show your vehicles' locations in exact real-time, the majority refresh their location data every 30 to 120 seconds – so you'll always have a pretty good idea of where your drivers are.

What this means is that, when an accident does happen, your driver won't end up lost in the middle of nowhere, waiting for help. You'll be able to direct recovery services – or the emergency services, if they're needed – to a precise spot, significantly cutting downtime and making sure help gets on the way as quickly as possible.

Some vehicle tracking systems take this one step further. For example, Vodafone Fleet Telematics – released in partnership with Geotab in September 2019 – can be configured to alert the right person in your business as soon as an accident happens, sending them the vehicle's details, and the time and location of the accident. It can also automatically raise the alarm with the emergency services if necessary.

4. Analyse accident reports

As they say, if you don't measure it, you can't manage it – and if you don't analyse the data that your vehicle tracking system collates in the run up to a crash, then you can't use that insight to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again.

Different vehicle tracking systems handle accident reporting in different ways. With Quartix, you'll simply need to report the accident to them, and they'll send you the relevant data to peruse. Samsara, on the other hand, won't send a specific crash report - but you can choose to be notified when collisions occur, and check out data on vehicle location, speed, and driving behaviour to gauge what happened.

Meanwhile, Vodafone Fleet Telematics provides crash reconstruction reports automatically, while Teletrac Navman's integrated dash cams capture incidents for you to watch back alongside Google Maps event replays.

In any case, many vehicle tracking systems will give you the insight needed to work out what happened, and share what you've learnt with your drivers to ensure it doesn't happen again.

5. Stay on top of maintenance and repairs

According to RegTransfer's research into UK road collisions, 1,595 of 2017's accidents happened as a result of vehicle faults - from defective brakes to under-inflated tyres. While that figure may not be as staggering as the ones we explored earlier, it's still significant - and avoidable.

It might sound surprising, but vehicle tracking systems can help you to identify problems as soon as they arise – and before they become dangerous. Many systems can pull fault codes directly from your vehicles' OBD ports, alerting you as soon as an issue is detected. Meanwhile, in-built scheduling software can help you to plot out and book in the services your fleet needs with comparative ease.

This, of course, extends to scheduling those bigger fixes – that is, the repairs that need to be done after a vehicle is damaged in an accident. By getting those sorted that much quicker, you'll cut the amount of downtime the vehicle suffers, getting your assets back up and running on the road in no time.

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