The case for in-cab monitoring for freight transport
Published 18 February 2019
Gallagher National Head of Transport Roz Shaw says there's safety in telematics and they represent a sound investment for transport and logistics operators.
In a 30+ year career as a transport operator at Hawkins Transport, I’ve seen firsthand how telematics and in-cab monitoring systems have benefitted our drivers and the business’s bottom line.
Since moving into the transport insurance sector last year I’m now seeing things from a different perspective and it’s heartening to see how take up of in-cab monitoring technology has really picked up pace in the road transport sector over the last 12 months.
If you have a large, long-distance fleet, then in-cab monitoring makes sound commercial sense. Yes, the cost can be high (between $2000-$8000 per prime mover, on top of the hardware and software you need for the office) but if you look at it from a safety and efficiency standpoint the decision becomes a lot easier.
As is so often the case, it was a bad incident that was the trigger for us to implement in-cab monitoring for our fleet of 60 prime movers at Hawkins Transport. We needed confidence that we could avoid such incidents in future, and that we could find ways to improve driver performance to minimise common risks. The technology worked for us on both counts.
Of course there was an element of wariness for some drivers, but that mindset has changed over the years as more people are made aware of the positives monitoring systems can bring – particularly when cameras can provide evidence of incidents occurring outside a driver’s control. That’s a great comfort for drivers and helps dispel any notions that they are not trusted to do a good job, or that they’re being ‘snooped on’.
For transport operators, being able to pinpoint and eliminate any undesirable or potentially dangerous driver habits is a huge step towards improving safety standards and, in turn, protecting staff wellbeing and business profits.
The savings that can be achieved through small efficiencies spread over a large fleet can also be considerable and help off-set the costs of implementation. At Hawkins, we limited our trucks to 98 kilometres per hour instead of 100kph, which saved on fuel costs and also prevented overspeed on downhill runs. Ultimately, though, it’s about ensuring the big incidents don’t happen and if monitoring can help prevent the rollover that eats up 5 years of profits, or the smash that traumatises a driver, then it’s worth every cent.
And those safety benefits are also of great interest to insurers. When calculating premiums, insurers look at both your claims history and the measures in place – or in the pipeline – to reduce the risk of incidents. I can assure you that insurers currently look very favourably on transport operators who can demonstrate their commitment to risk mitigation through in-cab monitoring systems.
I’ve even held discussions with some insurers about potentially sharing the cost of implementing the systems for clients that don’t already have anything in place – and it’s a conversation that insurers are more receptive to. As a result it’s certainly worth having your broker ask the question of the insurers. So whether it’s through reduced insurance premiums or shared costs of implementation, there are savings to be made.
Moving with the times
Looking ahead, there are other valid reasons to implement in-cab monitoring. I would expect more and more major contracts in future (particularly in high-hazard sectors such as fuel transportation) to stipulate that in-cab monitoring systems must be present and must be reported on. With that in mind, the sooner operators adopt the technology the better and this will enable in-house procedures to be developed and honed to maximise its potential.
As a traditional industry, the transport sector is too often regarded as being slow to adapt and evolve. I tend to disagree, and the increased usage of cutting edge safety systems is proof of that. For me it’s a sensible step towards the sort of continual improvement we, as a cornerstone industry, need to be making. It’s about future proofing and creating sustainable, safe businesses that can continue to thrive as Australia’s freight demands increase with our growing population.