Combining telematics technology with elements taken from games could help managers improve driving standards in their fleets, it has been said.

David Lawrence, marketing manager at Verizon Connect, made the comments during a webinar hosted by road safety charity Brake entitled ‘Telematics – What Next?’.

Lawrence spoke about the benefits of ‘gameification’ as a way to make the information produced by telematics relevant and interesting to drivers.

Such a system works by allowing drivers to access telematics data from their own driving on their smartphones, and compare this with other drivers in the company. 

Lawrence said, “Simply put, the ability to gameify means that all drivers can access their performance in a form that stimulates improvements and friendly competition. 

“It provides a platform where drivers can monitor their performance compared with their peers. 

“It effectively promotes self-policing and provides each driver with their own carrot or stick depending on their individual performance and motivation.”

Lawrence said fleets could benefit from drivers being engaged and motivated to improve their own driving.

“By applying the principles of gameplay, scoring points and competing with others, gameification can keep a regular check on drivers in a format that they can easily interact with, while making use of their natural curiosity and competitive nature,” he said. 

“Opting your drivers into a coaching app means, for the first time, they can get visibility into their own driving habits. 

“Once they know which areas they need to improve, they can make a conscious effort to work on them and to continue to track their own progress on a regular basis.”

Lawrence said an element of competition could deliver benefits for drivers at both ends of the performance scale.

“Some drivers show great pride in being the best that they can be, and a certain element of competition to be the best will see them perform consistently, especially when their efforts are recognised and possibly rewarded,” he said.

“Conversely, those drivers who may have historically displayed a ‘want to be told’ attitude can no longer hide in the shadows free to do their own thing. 

“The visibility that gameification provides now gives a spotlight on their performance, and any opportunity for self improvement, hopefully before any management intervention is required. After all, nobody likes coming in last place.”

Lawrence said that with a wide range of data available from telematics systems, it could be hard for fleets to know where to start.

He explained that the most fundamental areas to focus on were speeding, harsh acceleration and braking, and use of seat belts.

He said it could be that fleets picked just one area to focus on for an initial month or quarter, such as speeding, then moved on to the next one.

Acknowledging that many drivers’ initial response to such a scheme would be to ask ‘what’s in it for me?’, Lawrence said a programme of awards could be introduced either for individual high performers or for groups reaching a minimum standard.

He argued that since a safer fleet is a more efficient fleet, companies could use money saved on fuel for financial rewards.

When asked if there was a risk drivers could be tempted to use their phones while driving, Lawrence said it was a possibility, but that drivers tended to check the information in down time, such as at the beginning or end of the day or on brakes.

However, he added that drivers should be reminded of policies against mobile phone use at the wheel when the programme was introduced.

The webinar also discussed future technology developments in telematics, and Lawrence said that a significant one would be vehicle manufacturers moving towards installing telematics hardware as standard, removing the need to have aftermarket systems fitted.

He said, “Having a manufacturer-fitted solution creates many increased possibilities for a more efficient, lower-cost, safer fleet.

“Information on vehicle health can benefit the company’s bottom-line costs as
well as providing additional insight into safer driving.”