GreenRoad/Belmont Forum

The end of last week saw the publication of Chris Peat’s Bus and Coach Buyer article on the UK’s GreenRoad and Belmont Passenger Transport workshop:

“Saving money and reducing risks were the salient themes… The event gave existing and potential users of the GreenRoad driving performance and safety management system the chance to discuss and share experiences of the product’s use in bus and coach fleets.

Proceedings got underway with a speech by GreenRoad CEO, Jim Heeger, who gave an insight into upcoming developments for the driver safety and efficiency system. The goal of changing the device, according to Jim, is to improve the overall experience management has in driver safety. One of the ways Jim’s team has been trying to improve the system is by making it easier to extract the relevant data, to which end they are rolling out a new reporting infrastructure. A mobile app for drivers has been introduced, which allows them to view their trip details; their current safety score; their idling rate and to see where they rank in the team. The device also gives safe driving tips. According to Jim, drivers’ reactions to this technology have been good, with many interested to monitor their own performance. He believes it promotes peer to peer competition, which helps improve safety standards.

Belmont Director, Phil White, spoke next. He gave an insight into how the insurance company, like GreenRoad, is not only concerned about reducing costs but improving safety too. Phil claimed the insurance market has become unprofitable in recent years. As such, we are being ‘starved of insurer support’. This is in stark contrast to ‘the last few years, when there was an embarrassment of riches to choose from’. This year, only five of the 13 insurance providers that were involved in the bus and coach industry in 2011 are still active. Because of this, those remaining in the sector ‘need to get rates moving forward’. Phil said, ‘With the market like it is, the prognosis isn’t good for operators not managing their risks with technology.’

Following Phil’s presentation, the first ‘Hot Topic’ discussion session took place. This saw the gathering split into three groups to discuss what barriers are faced in rolling out this sort of equipment? One of the key issues the discussion groups came up with was how GreenRoad is introduced. They wanted their drivers to know the equipment is there for them to self-manage their driving performance and that it is not a ‘spy in the cab’. Therefore, one of the solutions was to effectively communicate to drivers what the device is used for. These discussions have to be ‘two-way’ and a clear and consistent message is needed. One example was given of an operator who gathered the drivers together for a buffet and held a questions and answers session prior to introducing the technology. With the employees being clear on what it is for and why it is being used, the operator now benefits from no negative, ‘red’ category drivers.

Next to speak was Belmont Director, Mark Bunbury, who explained what can be done to both prevent accidents and mitigate the costs. He started by outlining factors effecting insurance rates including the history of previous accidents, the amount of claims and the state of the market. He asked, ‘out of these factors, which are in the operator’s control? The answer is the amount of accident claims because we can control what damage fraudulent claims have. This is where risk management becomes important. Identifying and assessing risks should be a major priority to avoid criminal prosecutions and will also help to reduce accident numbers. All of this feeds back into insurance premiums’. Mark continued, ‘It’s not a fantastically high earning industry, but it’s not all about getting bums on seats to earn as much as possible. It’s important to keep on top of insurance all year long to help keep costs low. It’s not a once a year thing to sort out.’

GreenRoad Senior Consultant, Andy Cozens, led the Hot Topic, which looked at positive reinforcement in motivating drivers to improve. Andy suggested the rewards do not have to be big or expensive, just something would suffice, like treating those who performed well that day with a cool drink at the end of it. ‘Just something that generates canteen talk,’ he said. During the group discussions, sending out a text message to high scoring drivers was suggested. However, if they had performed exceptionally well, then a face to face commendation was thought to be better.”