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With so many moving parts, data points, and ways to interpret and analyze the data, safety and accident management analytics come with a unique set of challenges. Subject-matter experts weighed in and provided what they see as the top mistakes made by fleet managers and how to work to avoid them.

1. Create Consistency

“The lack of consistency is one of the biggest mistakes we see. With all of the analytics and mitigation options available, it is easy to become overwhelmed and ultimately push off key activities. To avoid this, it is critical to setup a comprehensive plan with a driver policy to match. In addition, it is important to leverage technology to automate tactical work such as requesting MVRs and assigning training, which will free up more time to focus on strategic risk management initiatives.” — Dan Belknap, senior product manager for Wheels Inc.

2. Remember Fleet's No. 1 Duty

“It’s important for fleets and senior management to remember not just the ‘how’ of running a fleet more efficiently, but the ‘why,’ which should be, first and foremost, protecting the lives and health of their drivers. New fleet initiatives are often seen as a cost that lacks a financial justification. That’s when remembering an organization’s duty to its employees should be part of the decision-making process.” ­— Wayne Smolda, CEO and Founder of The CEI Group.

3. Find Your Focus

“We often see fleets focus on the disciplinary side of risk mitigation, but forget to focus on the drivers that are following the rules. Providing an incentive program that includes peer recognition can produce great results.” — Dan Belknap of Wheels Inc.

“When looking at an individual driving record, it’s important to not only look at a driver abstract/motor vehicle record; you need to take it one step further. The motor vehicle record only provides a piece of the puzzle, showing moving violations and accidents (if reported to law enforcement). However, focus should also be placed around driver behaviors. Does the individual have unpaid toll violations, unpaid parking tickets, red light camera violations, frequently speeding, hard braking/turns, higher fuel spend, or maintenance costs? When combined, this data will provide a clearer picture of driver responsibility and behaviors, while also helping to create a more in-depth safety program.” — Michelle Lewis, manager, Accident Management for EMKAY.

“Avoid information overload. Fleet has become increasingly data driven, with information and figures pouring in from dozens of systems and service providers. As a result, it’s easy to become overloaded with the vast quantities of data available today. Focus your efforts on information that’s directly related to the issue at hand and the impact that this data will have on your objectives and the organization’s mission.”
Ron Katz, SVP, North American Sales for Chevin Fleet Solutions.

4. Create & Follow an Action Plan

“One major mistake fleet managers can make is complacency around safety and not creating a full-fledged action plan. Often, accidents are considered ‘the cost of doing business,’ and drivers are not provided with the proper management or tools to improve behavior. Integrating data from multiple sources allows fleet managers to more easily see the opportunities, and also more easily allow them to implement change.” — Tom Sloan, director of Product Management for Donlen.

5. Use Data-Driven Decisions

“Incorporating fleet decisions from data-driven conclusions into a fleet safety policy that is read and signed by drivers is key. Not all fleets buy into a fleet model that includes telematics, so leveraging the data and expertise of fleet management company strategic consultants can bring gains and help drive organizational buy-in.” — Brad Jacobs, director of Strategic Consulting Services for Merchants Fleet Management.

“Making assumptions based on limited data output or anecdotal information is a recipe for disaster. Instead, use data to drive decisions and solutions. Learn to identify trends and have hard evidence of real infractions.” — Doug Peters, advanced analytics product leader for Element Fleet Management.

“Don’t jump to conclusions on what the solutions might be. Analyze your company’s culture as well as the appetite for risk.” — Dan Shive, VP of Risk Management Services for LeasePlan USA.

6. Partner with the Pros

“A successful safety effort needs a partner who understands best practices and can be objective. For example, many drivers are still filling out traditional accident reports. Are these being keyed in and saved? For a fleet management and safety management company, ensuring this happens is second nature.” — Doug Peters of Element.

“The majority of vehicles deployed with telematics technology are missing the vital information coming from the vehicle, including odometer readings, seat belt, fuel, carbon emissions, and priority maintenance. We offer this information as a platform where the data can be shared with the FMC, fuel card provider, and loss control/risk management department.” — Colin Sutherland, EVP, Sales & Marketing for Geotab.

7. Ensure Buy-in Through Communication

“Creating a culture of safety takes more than a fleet manager. It requires support from team members at the C-level and those in risk, safety, and human resources. Communication to managers and drivers of the safety vision, policies and plans are often not introduced by senior management and communicated again to reinforce the importance. Communications should be incorporated to a yearly plan with the core values repeated and other themes introduced with reference to actual company data. Analytics can help deliver more accurate and meaningful communications. Consider developing brief videos using employee testimonials and actual company data to personalize the messages.” — Doug Peters of Element.

“Companies need to obtain approval from their stakeholders and senior management team when instituting a fleet safety policy. This will create a culture around the importance of safety along with expectations and requirements of the employer.” — Michelle Lewis of EMKAY.

8. Comprehensive Documentation

“The biggest mistake is not understanding and properly documenting who is responsible for fleet safety and risk within an organization. Keep in mind, it may not necessarily fall under the fleet manager role. For instance, sometimes the fleet manager is responsible from the cost perspective, other times it may be risk from the liability perspective. Human Resources might be responsible for MVRs. The best thing organizations can do is create a document that clearly outlines who is responsible for safety and accident management data, and what the responsibilities are for this role.” — Dan Shive of LeasePlan USA.

9. Take a Broad View of Accident Costs

“Fleet managers often don’t include in their calculation of the cost of accidents the increased insurance expenses, liability claims, lost employee productivity and additional administrative and legal costs they entail. Taking a narrower view of accident costs in this way can make it more difficult to secure management buy-in for expanded fleet safety initiatives.” — Wayne Smolda of CEI.

“If you only look at one statistic or set of data, you may not be seeing the whole picture. For example, you may see that backing collisions are your highest collision reason. However, allocating money to training on backing may not be your best investment if the severity and cost associated with those accidents is not as high as other accident reasons. Don’t look at too narrow of a period, you may see fluctuations and increases or decreases in collisions and expenses from one quarter to another, but you really need to evaluate a long period of time when making program decisions off of trends. A best practice is to look at several years of data to identify changes and patterns.” — Allison Lanzilotta, EVP of Business Development for Fleet Response.

10. Look at Data Analytically

“Looking at data analytically may suggest to a fleet manager actions that don’t suit the nature of the business. If this is the case, then the data still should be presented to decision-making operating managers and leaders so they can benefit from what the data analytics can tell everyone. Don’t pre-suppose the data can’t change business thinking.” — Wayne Smolda of CEI.

11. Be Aware of Information

“Fleet managers must perceive vehicles as tools that generate powerful information. They must become more aware in understanding their freedom to collect, use, and share data with their IT department and other applications in their business. Not all OEM vehicle-generated data allows fleet managers the freedom to operate that they need to grow.” — Colin Sutherland of Geotab.  

12. Correct Conclusions

“It’s easy for fleet managers to misinterpret data and draw incorrect conclusions. For example, just because a driver has a few hard braking events in a day does not necessarily mean he is a risky driver. In fact, he may have taken appropriate actions to avoid hazards. It’s important to be able to properly interpret data and drill down into details when necessary in order to fully understand the data.” — Rich Radi, director – Driver Excellence for ARI.

13. Reviewing Metrics

“Change and savings are an ongoing work-in-progress. No one thing will ‘move the needle’ overnight. The metrics need to be reviewed regularly. An achievable action plan should be developed and put into place. Then, the information needs to be reviewed regularly. Analytics is a tool to set goals. Then, additional work is needed to see that those goals are met.” — Allison Lanzilotta of Fleet Response.

14. Make Actions Timely

“Another mistake fleet managers make is not taking timely action when an incident occurs. This may be because they did not know about the incident in a timely manner, the data takes too long to analyze, or they had other more pressing priorities. Systems are available today that can interpret driver data from multiple data points to turn large data sets into meaningful information in real time. This can help managers quickly analyze risky driving behavior and allow them to take action rapidly to improve future performance. In some cases the system can even take the action for the manager, such as automatically deploying targeted online driver training in response to a specific incident.” — Rich Radi of ARI.

15. Dig Deeper

“Don’t be too focused on the data itself and fail to dig deeper to understand more. By interviewing drivers and others on the team, it could reveal other factors that may be influencing what is showing up in the data. For example, is dispatch over-promising and are drivers feeling rushed?” — Del Lisk, VP, Safety Programs for Lytx.

16. Data Collection

“Our solution is to limit data collection to just what’s going to be actionable in your organization. The data should be rolled up into a form that’s easy for everyone to understand. If you are providing the data to others for their use, follow up internally to see if the data is understood and actually being used to improve the business.” — Del Lisk of Lytx.

17. Keep It Simple

“Benchmarking doesn’t have to be difficult. Comparing fleet operations with peer organizations can be an extremely effective means of focusing attention on key areas for improvement. But, finding relevant and comparable data between different fleets can be extremely difficult and potentially costly to acquire. Internal benchmarking is a straightforward and often easy way to focus on areas of opportunity.

“Compare key fleet metrics by category from acquisition and utilization to operating costs by specific area and rather than focus on trends or improvements, concentrate on variances and outliers — dig into these discrepancies and look for opportunities to take action. Simplify data overload by creating a manageable set of operating metrics that can be generated on a consistent basis. Metrics are used to define where to target your efforts, evaluate your progress and report to others what they can do to effect change. Metrics don’t have to be complicated; they need to be clear, quantifiable, realistic, and timely.” — Ron Katz of Chevin Fleet Solutions.

18. Make Data Actionable

“Data for data’s sake is useless. Data needs to be analyzed and then turned into actionable insights. Once data has been analyzed into actionable insights, those actions need to be integrated into your driver and coaching workflow to improve outcomes.” — Del Lisk of Lytx.

19. Benchmark: How Good is Good?

“While many fleets review analytics data and see improvement, fleet managers need to discover the potential target. The best way to do this is by opting in and sharing data with similar organizations in a perpetual benchmark study.” — Colin Sutherland of Geotab.

20. Embrace Uniqueness

“CCM is witnessing trending regarding safety analytics where multiple data points are being considered to evaluate a driver’s risk profile. Accident and MVR data has been the typical data points used, but clients are also trending toward using driver monitor programs (How’s my driving?), telematics data, camera violations, and FMCSA DOT data for commercial vehicle drivers.” — Bob Martines, president & CEO for Corporate Claims Management (CCM).

“Although these driver monitoring systems are relatively new, we believe this technology will allow us to correct a driver’s high-risk behavior before it shows up on a MVR, further saving fleet manaers and drivers from lost productivity, potential legal issues, and expense.” — Bob Zeller, Northeast Sales Executive for CCM.

“It is important to have a safety application that can combine all of these data points, scale the information appropriately and analyze a driver’s risk profile based on the results.” — Jim Van Buren, IT Director for CCM.

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the teams content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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