Fleet Management

How to Detect Bad Driver Behavior and Reduce Risk

August 23, 2017

Telematics is a useful fleet management tool that can track and detect bad driver behavior. But does the “big brother” perception turn you off? Why are so many companies deploying this tool and why has the usage of telematics become commonplace? When evaluating the management of your fleet the most important issue is not cost. It is risk. Telematics is a tool that helps to manage and reduce risk. It’s also evolving and incorporating new devices, technologies, and metrics. Dashboard cameras, driver feedback in real time, and competition around driver safety are not the future. They are here today.

In the old world of telematics, it did feel like big brother watching over. In the early years, productivity was the focus, not driver behavior. Managers would get reports after the fact and conversations would occur with drivers about their performance. The discussions were around taking long breaks, inefficient routing and wasted time. In the new world of telematics, the focus is behavior. Gamification has allowed drivers to monitor their own behavior real-time and make corrections immediately. Additionally, not all feedback is negative. Positive reinforcement is also an important element.

What Behaviors Do Telematics Track?

1. Fast Cornering

Fast cornering becomes a concern with larger vehicles. It can result in loss and is a sign of aggressive driving by staff. Good driver behavior includes slowing down in turns including entrance and exit ramps. The posted speed limits on ramps is generally geared for smaller vehicles, not trucks. Failure to slow down can lead to rollover accidents. The cost of getting the truck upright, and repairing any damage can be astronomical, not to mention the opportunity cost of the truck’s downtime.

Telematics provides the data that can be used to teach drivers proper cornering speeds and behavior.

2. Speeding

Telematics can also monitor speeding. The best systems are highly configurable and allow you to set speed and duration configuration so you are not bombarded with 2 MPH momentary speed violations. Vehicles like vans and trucks can be tough to stop once traveling at high speeds.

The systems retain the data and can help recreate the moments before an accident. Telematics can let you know how fast your drivers are going at all times and are instrumental in preventing excessive speeding.

Telematics provides the real-time data managers need to properly correct drivers who consistently drive above speed limits.

3. Aggressive Acceleration & Braking/Sudden Deceleration

Aggressive acceleration increases accident and injury risk, puts unnecessary wear and tear on vehicles, and wastes fuel. Harsh braking can put others in danger. According to the NHTSA, 90% of rear-end accidents are caused by delayed driver reaction. Immediate driver feedback is possible to retrain drivers to be safer and easier on fleet vehicles.

4. Excess Idling

Excess idling wastes fuel and maintenance. An hour of idling is estimated equal to nearly 25 miles of driving. Your company needs to establish standards for what is appropriate for the specific fleet needs and vehicle uses. Telematics can help determine how much time is spent idling and let company owners know if they need to institute practices or technologies designed to combat excess idling.

While some technologies can help prevent excessive idling like engines that are programmed to shut down after a certain amount of time spent idling, the best way to combat idling is to have your driver’s practice good habits. Telematics is essential in uncovering excessive idling, allowing drivers to be taught better habits.

5. Seat Belt Usage and Accidents

Telematics also monitors seat belt usage. Data showing safe behaviors such as seat belt usage can be used to lower insurance costs. Additionally, telematics can provide valuable information surrounding accidents to help assign fault or defend against claims.


Telematics provides the data needed to mitigate risky behaviors. However, companies need to do more than just monitor the data. They need to use it to provide real-time feedback and coaching as well as provide positive feedback or rewards for improved behaviors.