Fleet management in the traditional sense largely deals with data that discusses location, speed, fuel consumption, compliance with regulations, and other pertinent parameters. As the role of a fleet manager continues to evolve, one of the prime areas of focus is definitely driver and fleet safety.
According to rough statistics, one in every five vehicles on an average is involved in some sort of crash throughout the year across industries. In addition, vehicle crashes also pose a reputational risk for organizations thus affecting their standing with the general public. Furthermore, the WHO reports that nearly 1.3 million people are the victims of road traffic crashes every year.
Such numbers and statistics provide fleet management professionals with an opportunity to improve and implement safety processes that will help bring down fleet management risks and costs, employee-related problems, and more.
Over the last decade, a fleet manager’s role has evolved into including additional responsibilities such as productivity levels, fleet management, engaging staff members and supervising their daily tasks, and so on.
The optimization of fleet management processes and the fleet manager’s role in enabling the same is often an overlooked business priority that impacts organizations and businesses overall. In this blog, we shed light on the vital responsibilities of a fleet manager:
1. Driver hiring and retention
One of the biggest responsibilities a fleet manager has is the hiring and retention of drivers in their fleet. Because this directly influences the organization’s revenue and productivity rates, it is necessary to understand the fleet manager’s role in the same.
Recruiting and retaining good drivers can be challenging especially with the COVID-19 outbreak, current travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, and the availability of drivers by itself. In such a scenario, it becomes important for the fleet manager to create a safe, reliable, and fulfilling work environment. This can be done by enabling a safety culture, driving engagement, celebrating driver performance, and embracing technology solutions that alleviate common problems faced by them.
2. Recording and analyzing fleet information accurately
Perhaps one of the most primary tasks a fleet manager must excel at is accurate collection and recording of data. For instance, the history of vehicles within the fleet of the most current oil change date, etc. are examples of the kind of data that a fleet manager must maintain.
Because every process in the fleet management ecosystem is dependent directly or indirectly on data, it becomes pertinent that data relating to any fleet management process is recorded and maintained in a timely fashion.
Access to well-maintained and recorded data allows fleet managers to analyze the data to check for any missing parts or anomalies and even helps them ensure that there are no issues within the fleet. For instance, having access to the prior history of a route can help the fleet manager authorize a route change or schedule alteration as needed.
This is an important aspect of the fleet manager’s role and helps keep both the fleet manager and the driver in check.
3. Selecting the right vehicles
Apart from the drivers themselves, the fleet managers have most information regarding the vehicles. Therefore, it is the fleet manager’s responsibility to select the right vehicle for his/her staff. This is influenced by various factors such as how long the vehicle has been in use, if it has reached its maximum use, and so on.
In the case that a vehicle reaches its maximum use, the fleet manager can also determine whether to resell the vehicle and get the best possible price for the same, thus acting as a negotiator.
4. Setting up scheduling and maintenance
Fleet managers are not only responsible for vehicle maintenance, but also need to ensure that their vehicles are in the best shape so they can perform all functions to their optimal capacity. It is also vital that the vehicles in the fleet are able to successfully deliver products or services at optimized costs.
Fleet managers are responsible for maintenance setup and scheduling to ensure that the vehicles in their fleet are properly maintained and serviced. In certain cases, fleet managers and organizations alike can hire an external auto-service business for vehicle maintenance.
Fleet safety – a core function for fleet managers
Fleet safety is an important aspect of fleet operational excellence. Fleet and driver safety have assumed a great deal of importance in recent years as accidents cause an adverse impact in many ways: in terms of costs incurred, safety and well-being of the drivers, and reputational damage.
Better Fleet safety practices also have a cost implication. With technologies like AI-based video telematics and advanced analytics on the cloud making their way into the fleet management sector, we see an exponential change growth in the way that the industry as a whole operates.
A fleet manager’s role is to ensure that the driver is safe and prepare them for the challenges they will face on the road. A major number of accidents are a result of poor decision making and inadequate training. A fleet manager can change that by introducing protocols and coaching training the drivers.
Here are some simple yet effective steps that a fleet manager must take in order to ensure fleet safety:
Step 1: Establish a fleet safety policy
Fleet safety is a priority on all fronts, however, for a fleet manager to enforce safety strategies can be challenging without effective communication. A strong fleet safety policy lays the foundation for a competent fleet safety program and setting standards. Such policies ensure that employees, staff members, and drivers understand and practise organizational expectations consistently.
Step 2: Enforce routine vehicle inspections
Routine inspections of vehicles enable fleet management personnel to identify and resolve potential safety issues and prevent future breakdowns. Apart from helping to mitigate risks, this helps the organization save on unnecessary overheads and costs that impact the bottom line.
Step 3: Driver engagement and retention
Driver engagement and retention are a necessary part of the fleet management and safety process. There are multiple ways to carry this out. Creating and implementing a strong training program is imperative to avoid accidents, keep drivers safe, and protect the organization’s financial resources. Fleet managers can implement this by training new and existing drivers, and also improving the driver recruitment process.
Another way to retain drivers is by applying gamification to the fleet management process. Making day-to-day tasks more interesting and creating a two-way communication and feedback pathway helps drivers stay engaged. This also motivates and incentivizes the drivers to keep doing a good job on a daily basis.
Step 4: Protect your drivers and fleet from accidents
Fleet safety technology solutions such as video telematics provide real-time insights into driver behaviour and enforce fleet safety procedures. Video helps protect drivers and the fleet when involved in not-at-fault accidents and against fraudulent claims. AI on the edge enables in-cab coaching for drivers when dangerous driving is detected – this includes distraction, fatigue, speeding, tailgating, etc. AI on the edge ensures you have a highly granular understanding of how the fleet is doing in terms of safety, what kind of dangerous driving behaviours need attention, which drivers are doing great and which drivers can benefit from personalized coaching.
The goal is to help drivers become better professionals and incentivize them accordingly – this benefits the drivers, the fleet, and society at large. Video telematics results in huge savings to the fleet from a safety and operations viewpoint.
The RideView platform is an end-to-end smart video telematics solution offered by LightMetrics that provides fleet customers with advanced AI-on-the-edge for in-cab coaching, integrated analytics, driver coaching workflow, and many more features.
The fleet management industry is to have grown by 5% in 2022 from 2016 with video telematics itself forecasted to grow a lot more. With advanced technology such as automated systems, connected vehicles, EVs, improved GPS and navigation software, and so on, the fleet management industry will see a steep rise. As the fleet management industry evolves, the role of the fleet manager will evolve in the years to come as well.
This is Part 1 of a two-part blog series. In Part 2 of the series, we will discuss the ‘Role of the Driver and Driver Coaching in fleet management.’