Interview with Teletrac Navman Solutions Specialist, Chris L’Ecluse

National Road Transport Association

Talking Technology and Reflective Drivers with Solutions Specialist, Chris L’Ecluse

2022 has already seen 143 deaths due to collisions on our roads, up 11.7% since last year. While adverse conditions and poor roads may exacerbate the problem, the cause ultimately lies with failures in the judgement of drivers, especially when paired with other factors like fatigue, speed, or distractions. Advances in technology, however, are being used to allow business that work with fleets of vehicles to have a better understanding of the driving habits of their employees.

What does that mean? With all that information at your fingertips, you can target specific areas that you know need improvement as training programs across the board right down to personalised coaching for each driver.

At the forefront of this effort to shift the culture of distracted drivers is Teletrac Navman Solutions Specialist, Chris L’Ecluse. Having spent two decades working in crash investigation in the Western Australian Police Force, Chris is all too familiar with the results of drivers being careless and for changing the culture to enhance safety for all road users.

What are the toughest barriers to educating drivers and changing their mindset?

If we ask everyone who drives a question, ‘what is driving like in your town?’, they will all say that the people are terrible drivers – no one says that people are great drivers and are always happy to cast blame on others, but rarely will they look at their own driving and really pick it apart. In short, it is most peoples’ inability to be self-reflective that is the toughest barrier to changing their mindset.

How is the use of safety cameras going to help people to change their approach to driving?

There is a direct correlation between having safety cameras and reducing collisions. When you text and drive, you lose situational awareness. And when that happens, not only do you become a danger to yourself and other road users, but you’re also less likely to know where those cameras are. That’s why they can catch you. Furthermore, driving is a discipline. It’s not an activity. In order to remain safe, you must be disciplined. If you get caught, you get a big fine. You might come very close to losing your licence, and when you lose your licence as a professional, your livelihood is in jeopardy. This flow-on effect aims to make people think about the consequences of their actions.

Companies have found that while there’s often resistance to start with, organisations that have a successful approach to implementing dashcams in their vehicles have drivers who don’t want to go out without them. Professional drivers often find its people around them causing a collision. This is where they are hugely beneficial because they can demonstrate what occurred. Also, the introduction of telematics presents factual data to a driver. It lets them know what their driving looks like, and often, people are shocked. Smart AI-enabled cameras help here too as it allows individuals to be reflective of what their driving looks like and provides instant auditory feedback to improve behaviour in real-time.

What are digital solutions for businesses that wish to be more proactive in mitigating risk and coaching drivers?

For fleet operators wanting to build a culture of safety and improve fleet performance, driver education should be a top priority. Many companies that I speak to just wait for something bad to occur then they deal with the aftermath, rather than proactively mitigating the risk from the get-go. The keyword here is to be proactive. Fleet companies need to have a solid understanding of their duty of care and where the risks lie. Clearly, telematics has been a wonderful tool for fleet operators to understand how their fleet is being operated. We’ve seen some startling evidence around how they can turn around their fleet, not only with the purpose of making their employees safer, but there are other benefits like fuel management and cost savings.

What do you say to drivers who are worried about their privacy at work being invaded?

Actually, it’s no different to having CCTV cameras in the workplace or in a physical building. I did some research and I found that more often than not, drivers weren’t being appropriately consulted on their mindset. They believed that someone was watching their journey 24/7. But in fact, no company has that ability. There’s no such thing as mission control watching all the screens and every single journey. The dashcams are just in the background, recording the trips, and by the end of each month, there will be a report identifying some areas for improvements that fleet operators can investigate and act upon.

How can drivers best use telematics to improve their own driving?

Telematics can give real-time feedback and coach people as they’re committing any errors. It tells whether you’re over the speed limit, things like stop signs, distance between yourself and the vehicle in front, and gives you the warning. The technology is so smart that it’s like having a driver trainer always next to you. For drivers to get the most out of telematics, the first step is to look in the mirror, understand where the failings are, and try to fix them. Unfortunately, most of us are too quick to cast the blame on other drivers. We all do it. We see fault in every other driver. Instead of pointing fingers, let’s reflect upon your own driving. Look into the mirror, control what you can control and that’s in your vehicle only.

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