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Comment: Protection in a crisis

Amid an international health crisis, delivery workers are stepping up to the plate to ensure the UK population has the essentials they need to get through the current lockdown.  As more and more delivery vehicles are introduced to the UK roads, so too does the risk of accidents. Chris Gill, sales specialist at Concirrus, highlights how fleet managers can use technology to protect their drivers and minimise operational disruption.

Chris Gill, sales specialist at Concirrus
Chris Gill, sales specialist at Concirrus

23 March, 2020 will be etched in people’s memories for decades as the first day the nation was forced to ‘stay at home’. But not everyone could. Our delivery drivers have quickly become part of the UK’s key workers network and a dominant force on our roads ensuring that essential goods can still be delivered.

As such, fleet operators were quickly put under pressure to aggressively hire new drivers to meet the demand of consumers moving towards home delivery. But, with many of the traditional methods of selecting and hiring drivers (i.e. ride along driver assessments) no longer possible due to social distancing, the risk of compromising on driving qualities intensified.

Furthermore, fragmented telematic hardware installed into fleet vehicles or changing hardware provider has created significant disruption to the data migration and inconsistencies. The risk is that the early identification of risky driving behaviours could be missed, and the fleet is less likely to be interconnected with the claims, insurer, and broker.

Changing behaviours

Worryingly, recent evidence would indicate that those risky driver behaviours have become more prevalent since the lockdown. Despite the reduction in traffic which has been likened to the early 1970s, speed-related events and enforcement tickets issued have significantly increased. And, although we are seeing fewer collisions, the collisions that are occurring are more severe and, in some cases, fatal.

With a recession almost inevitable, now is the time to employ new technologies to help recession-proof fleets and optimise the performance of drivers and vehicles. For example, driver assessments can be conducted remotely using telematics software which will ensure the quality of driver selection during the hiring process is not compromised. Plugging in software which allows fleet operators to conduct licence checks directly through the licence bureau is also more important than ever to ensure they are hiring the right calibre of driver.

Furthermore, the opportunity is here to connect fleets digitally via software with the insurer and claims handling companies to automate the first notification of loss. This will enable underwriters to take into consideration the dynamic risk management of a fleet in addition to the traditional static pricing factors used historically to price policies. Over time, this will offer a ROI on the fleet operator’s risk transfer programme.

Fleet operators should embrace new technologies in the pursuit of risk mitigation. Active risk management could unlock huge benefits to fleet operators.  According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’, for every £1 of insured loss, there will be between £8-£36 of uninsured loss that the operator will have to pay out. Therefore, enabling the early identification of risky driving behaviours during the ‘near-miss phase’ and intervening in real-time before a collision occurs is a game changer. By unlocking the ROI from the data available via a multitude of telematic hardware, fleet operators can potentially yield a 10% reduction in collision frequency in just six months.

Seeking solutions compatible with a range of existing video and telematics devices is also critical. This ensures that the fleet operators have a ‘system of record’ solution provider to connect with their insurer, irrespective of what telematic service provider they use. Insurers and claims handlers can use a single system to process fleets data from telemetry service providers. It is of course possible that a telemetry service provider could provide some comparable capability, but if a fleet decides to change telematics solutions, they will want to avoid having to change their back-office platforms.

The global health crisis has created the catalyst for speeding up the evolution of change and digitalisation within the industry. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, change of this magnitude would likely take years to happen but we are likely to see this transformation over the next six to nine months.  Fleet operators who do not change risk ever greater claims costs, increased severity in collisions and reduced brand reputation.  Now is the time to act.

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Written by Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.

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