Big Brother is watching!

Big Brother is watching!

A company can be held accountable if an employee causes an accident in the course of their duties, so it is essential that all the necessary steps are taken to ensure that the organisation is covered. Can human nature be controlled, however?

Supa Quick summarises things superbly in its piece “Distracted driving – a major cause of road accidents”: “A split second is all it takes for an accident to happen. Keeping your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on your driving remain the most basic and crucial rules of the road – for your safety and that of other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”

The South African-based tyre expert notes that, according to the 2018 International Transport Forum’s Annual Road Safety Report, South Africa has one of the highest road crash rates in the world – with distraction cited as an increasing problem for road safety.

“South Africa’s Road Traffic Management Corporation, in its February 2016 report, had already shown that inattentive and distracted driving has become a major problem and one of the leading causes of single-vehicle road crashes among young people. Those aged 18 to 24 are twice as likely to be involved in a single-vehicle crash as those in the 25-to-49-year age group.”

And cellphone usage while driving is one of the major contributors to distracted driving. But how can employers ensure that employees aren’t using their phones while driving for work? The difficulty is that without the help of technology, one cannot be sure.

The managing director of the driver training organisation MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says the challenge is that many drivers do not take distracted driving as seriously as they should. “Some drivers will not even consider drinking and driving. Yet, the same cannot be said when it comes to those same people using a cellphone and driving.

“It is for this reason that MasterDrive is taking proactive steps to change the current situation by launching its latest product offering – MasterDrive NoCell. It is an app that effectively makes it impossible for employees to use certain functions on their cellphones while behind the wheel.”

Fleet operators can thus control how a phone is used behind the wheel. “One can use the app to whitelist certain applications such as Bluetooth phone calls and navigation applications. Anything else, which can wait until the employee arrives at their destination, can be blocked from use, such as emails, text messages and social media. The app can even detect the presence of a second phone in a vehicle and apply the same restrictions,” Herbert explains.

“Safety policies that rely on drivers to not use their phones are no longer enough as technology becomes more pervasive and demands on employees grow during Covid-19. MasterDrive NoCell is the next step in safety strategies.”

MasterDrive NoCell can also be used in conjunction with the current telematics systems of the company. “Fleet operators will receive basic information on their employees’ driving behaviours that can be used along with the data from their telematics provider to make informed decisions about training needs,” Herbert says.

Software that takes the decision to use a phone while driving out of the hands of employees could be game-changing. “MasterDrive looks forward to the tangible results that will be seen within companies that take their no-cellphone use while driving safety policies seriously, says Herbert.

“As crashes in the workplace remain a major issue across the world, MasterDrive NoCell has the potential to change that.”

So, while human nature can’t be controlled, its effects can be mitigated.

A video telematics solution or not?

Telematics solutions provider Geotab Africa lists the following criteria to assist fleet operators to determine if their fleet requires a video telematics solution.

• Does your fleet experience a high number of high-risk incidents or accidents?
While telematics can provide details about a vehicle’s speed and location, video telematics provide visual details showing how and why the incident occurred. The system can also alert a driver when a risky event occurs in real time, giving them immediate feedback and awareness of their actions on the road.

• Is there a need to exonerate your drivers with irrefutable proof or evidence in case of accidents?
The use of video data can tell the whole story of any incident experienced by drivers while on the road. It can quickly determine who was at fault and exactly what the root-cause behaviour of a collision or near-miss may be.

With both an inside and outside lens to capture both the driver’s behaviour and what occurs on the road, video acts as an unbiased witness to any incident, showing all parties’ actions (whether the driver was alert or not, what action did they take during the incident and whether the event could have been avoided). Exoneration not only protects a company’s reputation, but it can also protect a fleet from paying out unnecessary claims.

• Do you want to reduce your overall fleet risk profile, insurance and operational costs?
Risk reduction equates not only with reduced insurance costs, but with lower operational costs as well. By utilising video data to monitor driver behaviour, fleets have the ability to focus on minimising risky driving behaviour – such as following too closely (which can not only lead to collisions, but high incidents of harsh braking, causing wear and tear and generally high vehicle maintenance costs). Creating safe drivers can boost a company’s bottom line.

• Do you want to change driver behaviour and empower your fleet managers with powerful video coaching tools?
Training and coaching of drivers should be an ongoing process in any fleet. By using video and intelligent reporting dashboards, which prioritise the most risky drivers or behaviours, fleet managers can effectively and timeously address the behaviours that need to change. Video is a powerful training tool to continuously train and heighten driver’s awareness, improving their skills and turning good drivers into great ones.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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