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Q&A: Evidentiary Data - What It Is And Why It Matters

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

Your vehicles are capable of capturing tons of useful data with telematics. It’s a proven way to turn data into actionable insights. The possibilities are endless!

  • Capturing real-time locations so that jobs can be assigned to drivers without having to come back to base.
  • Getting instant alerts when oil levels are low.
  • Tyres have been rotated beyond 10,000KM and need to be changed.
  • Generating reports of driver roundtrip times to help determine if they’re using the most efficient routes.

However, telematics is only as effective as the insights it can provide, and how you use them. If your chosen solution is plagued with missing data or a lack of clarity, you cannot rely on its ability to accurately provide the right information, which can leave you worse off. Choosing the right provider and the right solution means you better understand your business, better manage employee’s actions while out on the road and identify risks before they get out of hand. Best of all, it gives you evidentiary level data to stay compliant.

To find out what evidentiary data means and why it matters, we spoke with Teletrac Navman’s Solutions Specialist, Chris L’Ecluse, about its potential.

Q: What is evidentiary data?

Evidentiary data refers to the quality of the data produced by the technology within your vehicles or assets. Many organisations use technology to track and collect data, but if you’re looking at your screen and seeing your vehicle in the middle of the ocean, that’s not accurate or reliable. If your telematics data is accurate, it can even be used as evidence in court as needed. Yet providers and solutions vary in quality.  

Q: Why should organisations be looking into evidentiary data?

It’s a measurement of both the accuracy of the data and how effective a business is at using it. Organisations use telematics, and the information it produces, for a variety of reasons, such as efficiency or safety, but one of the biggest reasons is for compliance. If your data isn’t accurate, it’s difficult to detect safety breaches as they happen and bring about positive change.

With technology that has industry approval and years of research and development behind it, businesses can rely on the information being produced. If the quality of the data is constantly poor, it’s not reliable enough to pull up a driver that has inconsistent driving behaviour. It would also be inadmissible in court.

Q: How can you be assured of the accuracy of the data?

Over the last few years, telematics providers have invested heavily to ensure this technology holds up against the strictest criteria. This can be validated in a number of ways, such as achieving accreditation with Transport Certification Australia, who is an independent body responsible for certifying transport technology. If you’re using a telematics system that holds Type Approval as a Certified Telematics Service, you can rest assured that your data is accurate.

Another example of quality accreditation to look for is an Australian Tax Office Class Ruling for solutions that provide data on Fuel Tax Credits or Fringe Benefits Tax.

By looking at rulings by independent bodies that determine whether a solution is providing the highest quality data, you can make more informed decisions about what solutions to use in your fleet.  

Q: Speaking of legislation, does it help with things like adhering to the Chain of Responsibility?

That’s right, the quality of the data has massive implications. The Chain of Responsibility (CoR) is one area where reliable and high-detail data is an enormous benefit. Everyone in the supply chain can view and act on the data if a safety risk becomes evident. If you identify an issue, management need to implement strategies to address those problems. Yet if the data can’t be trusted, then any new policies, procedures or strategies won’t be successful.

For example, a driver unknowingly exceeds the speed limit, yet the data is erratic due to a poor-quality GPS signal, so this goes largely unaddressed by the business. You can’t be proactive in addressing these issues if they’re relying on inaccurate information. The solution won’t give you the full picture, making it harder to identify and manage risks. A business needs to have the very best in vehicle tracking and reporting to ensure the data they get is the absolute truth.

Q: What do you say to those who don’t see the value in investing in telematics and evidentiary data?

Ultimately, if you can’t measure the extent of the risk in your business, it stands to reason that you cannot manage that risk. This means you, the business and your staff are not just in danger of breaching the CoR, but workplace health and safety, fatigue laws and other elements of Heavy Vehicle National Law. Without visibility into your fleet operations and behaviour of drivers on the road, your employees might be putting themselves and others at risk.

Q: Do businesses ever shy away from collecting data due to the overload of information being delivered?

Absolutely. There have been instances where providers give clients all their raw data and they’re set up to receive alerts on every aspect. When you look at the amount of information being generated, you can’t blame people for throwing their hands up and saying, “I don’t have time to deal with this”.

What sets telematics apart is that it turns information into intelligence. It takes something that means nothing and turns it into an actionable insight, in a format that organisations can use and act upon easily. Essentially, you work on the trends and exceptions by figuring out what kind of information and alerts you need to know instantly. This can vary between organisations. For example, do you want to know every time that someone speeds 3km/h over the limit, or 8 km/h over? Do you want an alert every time someone submits a pre-trip checklist form? Only you know what’s important to your business, and the solution needs to cater for this.

Q: How should organisations get started with collecting evidentiary data?

A common misconception is that technology is a silver bullet and will change all your issues in one hit. For it to really be effective and to ensure you get the most out of the data you collect, you need to manage your expectations and have an effective strategy in place.

What I would say to organisations starting out is:

  • Set some goals. Think about the short-term goals you need to meet to achieve the big goals you want to achieve.
  • Start small. Don’t think you’re going to change everything overnight. Take bite size chunks by looking at your biggest risks are and target them first.
  • Understand what the technology is, how it works, what it collects, and how much information it produces.
  • Decide what you’re going to do with that information and how you plan to act on it.

An important thing to keep in mind is that cultural change takes time. For example, if you know drivers are consistently going over the speed limit, it’s unrealistic to expect that to change in a week after rolling out telematics. Have a plan in place before implementing the technology into your business - that’s the greatest way to achieve success.

Q: Besides improving safety and compliance, are there any other benefits?

Evidentiary data provides you with the proof to take effective action in your business. Outside of safety and efficiency benefits, evidentiary data also has the potential to deliver huge cost savings. This could be from identifying drivers accelerating heavily and using a lot more fuel than necessary. Braking harder puts strain on the tyre suspension and compression components. Driving harder than necessary also puts stress on the driver train and all the moving parts and internal fluids. This means parts of the vehicle break down sooner and cost an organisation a great deal more. With the right evidence businesses can crack down on these behaviours and save on maintenance and upkeep costs.  

The data is also a valuable education tool and helps everyone to understand the effects of problematic driving, fatigue and poor management of the work environment.  Management can work with drivers individually to improve their behaviour on the road. Alternatively, the data might reveal that jobs are being scheduled unrealistically or drivers are unable to find rest stops easily during long hauls. The data then helps management work on better solutions that better suit the needs of their team. Evidentiary data is the ultimate tool to help everyone in the business be as compliant and safe as possible.

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