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ICFM CONFERENCE 2013: Telematics debate dominates conference

Date: 28 November 2013   |   Author:

Delegates at the 21st annual Institute of Car Fleet Management conference earlier this month heard a panel discussion on the implementation of devices to manage driver behaviour, as well as questions from the floor that included tyre replacement and wider transport planning.

ICFM chairman Roddy Graham's opening address bemoaned the lack of understanding of how training can help the fleet sector. "Employers often neglect to equip workers with the tools they need to produce the best work," he told the assembled 150 members and guests. "The sector often appears ignorant to the benefits of professional training and development; intellectual capital is underrated."

Of the five-strong panel for the Q&A session that dominated the morning discussions held at the National Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire, incident management specialist FMG's group IT director Bob Holbrey provided the strongest views on managing driver behaviour.

"Is there a will with fleet companies to do anything with the information?" asked Holbrey. "There is a lot of nervousness around data and privacy. The level of information is astonishing and it gives the tools to manage how vehicles are being driven. The challenge for the industry is, do you want to take up the challenge?

"The use of telematics in company cars is to protect the human asset not the metal asset."

He also played down the influence of speed limiters: "They almost take the responsibility away from the driver, and that person is responsible for how the vehicle is being used. It will have an impact on high-speed fuel use but nothing else."

Holbrey aired the view that if half of the £42.6bn being spent on the HS2 rail link were instead invested in super high-speed broadband for the whole UK, it would change the way we all work. "Why do we have vehicles? They are work tools," he said. "If we change the way we work, would we need so many vehicles."

Earlier in the session, Michelin's head of Government and public affairs Darren Lindsey had predicted that Government could use the tyre-labelling scheme introduced last year to take a keener interest in what replacement tyres are being fitted to cars, as the efficient tyres fitted to a car for the official efficiency tests aren't necessarily replaced like-for like if cheaper alternatives are available.

"Tyre labelling has given us a mechanism for measurement, and I think if they can tax something they will, especially green-related," he said. "It could be an example of a green tax later down the line, when a low rolling-resistance tyre is replaced by something we can't even pronounce."