How to Use Analytics to Inform Fleet Safety

April 29, 2021

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Key Takeaways

Fleet safety affects your business, your drivers, and your customers, so developing a well-informed safety program is essential. With fleet safety analytics tools, you can gather real time data from your telematics devices and AI dash cams to gain insights that improve safety proactively, helping your fleet avoid crashes before they happen.

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Despite efforts of businesses across all transportation segments to improve fleet safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that the number of large trucks and buses involved in crashes has remained mostly static around 200K per year. With an average of over 500 commercial vehicles ending up in crashes a day, it isn’t hard to imagine the amount of money and time that goes into managing these incidents, to say nothing of potential loss of life.

For the sake of your drivers, your business, and your customers, safety needs to be a priority of fleet management, and this all begins with developing and implementing a safety program. A strong fleet safety program should be a coordinated, strategic initiative that improves driver behavior, reduces accidents, prevents false claims, and lowers costs. This starts with the foundational safety solutions like hiring safe drivers and maintaining your vehicles, but to develop the best program for your team, you need insights that can only come from data analytics.

What is fleet safety analytics?

While the term “data analytics” may sound like something out of some big data company, with the right software, you can gather data on your entire fleet, including how long they are on the road. Odds are your business already uses some form of data analytics in the form of monitoring fuel usage, travel times, and hours drivers spend on the road. And many of the tools you use to gather these metrics—including internal sensors, GPS trackers, and ELD—gather far more information that can not just improve your bottom line, but also make your fleet safer.

This is what we mean when we say “fleet safety analytics”—the ability to collect data and use it to avoid future safety issues. By using data points ranging from driving behavior to fleet performance collected in real time, you can make more informed decisions about how and where to introduce safety solutions into your fleet management. Dash cam footage, in particular, can provide valuable safety insights and offer ways for your safety managers to construct better safety programs.

How can fleet safety analytics inform your safety strategy?

Fleet safety programs tend to be unique to each business, with nearly as many plans as there are operations within the fleet industry, but there are some common goals that repeatedly show up. These typically include decreasing at-fault accident rates and creating a safety-first culture, but safety plans also aim to: 

  • reduce costs associated with collisions

  • exonerate innocent drivers from not at-fault incidents

  • improve CSA scores, customer satisfaction, and driver retention

Data analytics offers insights that can give your fleet managers a broader picture of your operations, and with the right tools, you can easily organize them to develop better safety solutions. For example, with vehicle and driver data, you can plan preventative maintenance to avoid any interruptions to fleet operations, coach drivers and create incentive programs to promote a culture of safety, and prove your dedication to safety to insurance companies and customers alike.

In fact, many businesses are discovering that analytics can actually help prevent crashes and other incidents. They already use GPS and dash cam footage to spot potential problem areas and correct them before they lead to crashes, but with advanced tools like telematics and AI technology, you can find and solve potential problems proactively, rather than reactively (after an incident has occured).

How telematics and AI technology unlock deeper safety insights

While the term “telematics” was first popularized in the United States in the 1970s, modern telematics software offers a deeper, more connected look at your fleet with more ways to utilize the collected data. This includes:

  • Visibility: GPS monitoring lets your fleet managers keep track of your fleet, including unpowered assets like trailers or reefers as well as powered ones like motor vehicles.

  • Maintenance: Since most vehicle-based telematics systems are plugged directly into the diagnostic port, you get instant access to data like fuel consumption, coolant temperature, and engine load, so you can efficiently time maintenance.

  • Safety: Not only can telematics systems offer insights into your team’s driving habits, it can also inform coaching sessions to address issues like harsh braking or acceleration that may go unnoticed without telematics data.

  • Cost savings: Insurance companies are already using telematics information to assess risk factors and adjust premiums, so encouraging better driving behavior can also reduce the amount you spend on insurance.

AI solutions, like Samsara’s AI Dash Cams, not only gain even more data, but give you the ability to respond in real time to potential issues. For example, our AI Dash Cams analyze the road and cab for high-risk behaviors, harsh events, and crashes. If an avoidable incident is detected, in-cab alerts will warn the driver so that they can adjust their behavior. The Samsara AI Dash Cam will also auto-upload incident footage to the cloud, so that your safety managers can review it and take action to reduce costs and save lives.

What are the different types of fleet safety technologies?

If you’re ready to start integrating technology into your strategy, here is a quick rundown of the various types of fleet safety technologies:

  • Telematics: The first step toward a safe fleet is ensuring the safety of your vehicles. With telematics, you can spot and curtail dangerous driver behaviors, including harsh braking, harsh acceleration, and collisions before they lead to damage to your vehicle, to others, and to your reputation. Diagnostics data can spot issues in your vehicles that need to be repaired so you can fix them before they become problems, and by staying compliant with DVIR regulations, you’ll also ensure that your drivers are running regular maintenance inspections.

  • Video-based safety systems (cameras): Dash cams have come a long way from the old days of recording data and requiring manual downloading from storage. Modern dash cams can auto-upload incident footage to the cloud, and AI-embedded devices like Samsara’s AI Dash Cams use g-force sensor data to detect a wide range of hard-to-detect incidents—like distracted driving and tailgating—and even offer in-cab alerts to warn drivers before an accident occurs. In fact, a recent Frost & Sullivan report highlighted how video telematics solutions have been found to lower driver distraction by 80%, reduce speeding by 65%, reduce collisions by 60%, and reduce claims by 25%.

  • Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): ADAS technologies use advanced computing, including artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, and edge computing to monitor, identify, alert, and sometimes even prevent safety-critical incidents in a proactive, real-time way.

How can you use insights from a fleet analytics dashboard?

More data is great, but on its own, it can be difficult to parse. With a cloud-based dashboard like Samsara’s, you can gather data from multiple sources (like your telematics devices or dash cams) and display it all in one place in a way that makes it easier for your fleet managers to understand trends and make informed decisions.

For example, Samsara offers a comprehensive and easy-to-navigate cloud-based dashboard. With this resource, your team can improve driver safety with insights presented in the dashboard, giving you the ability to:

  • Benefit from a single view of safety incidents across your fleet: With a centralized online view of safety-related incidents, including embedded video footage and sensor data, your fleet managers can identify trends and develop coaching strategies.

  • Reward and incentivize safety: With Samsara Driver Safety Scores, you can gamify good driving behavior with leaderboards that your drivers can access to see where they rank within the fleet.

  • Track high-level safety trends over time: Samsara’s Safety Dashboard lets you see trends as well as one-off incidents so you can better understand repeated behavior and how to prioritize coaching.

  • Stay up-to-date on driver behavior from anywhere: Tools like the Samsara Inbox keep fleet managers in touch with drivers even while they’re miles away, both by sending alerts via text message and through in-cab alerts.

Make safety a competitive advantage with Samsara 

By integrating AI Dash Cams, vehicle telematics, and cloud-based software, Samsara’s video-based safety solution helps fleets make measurable safety improvements and provides ROI in the moments that matter.

In a recent survey of more than 500 Samsara customers, 90% said Samsara has helped improve safety within their fleet. And more than 50% of our dash cam customers have used Samsara footage to exonerate drivers in the past year, saving $5,000 to $25,000 on average, with some customers saving over $100,000 a year. 

To learn more about how Samsara can help your business make safety a competitive advantage, read about how we can partner with you for the long-term, or reach out for a free trial today.

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