Ready to Roll

With the 3G shutdown fast approaching, next-gen telematics provides a way to increase compliance, reduce costs and enhance driver, and road-user safety at a very low cost.
A mobile phone connected to fleet telematics.

No technology is perfect, and, after a while, it becomes outdated.

With the 3G shutdown fast approaching, now is the time for operators to update their telematics to the latest 4G and 5G-equipped tech.

Telstra will close its 3G network in June 2024, less than 12 months away, but the shift to 4G and 5G has a lot to offer operators, including more speed and connectivity, along with opportunities to streamline and improve efficiency.

Teletrac Navman, according to its Chief Product Officer Andrew Rossington, can help make the switch easy.

“There are many variables outside the control of fleet operators like road conditions, weather, animals, and other road-users,” he says. “Where technology like telematics comes into play is in enhancing safety, providing opportunities for driver coaching and development, and improving compliance with government regulation.”

Cost should be no barrier, as Andrew views it, to improved compliance and safety.

A common misperception regarding telematics technology is that it’s expensive and generates little or no safety benefit for drivers and other road-users.

Like all technology, the cost of telematics is decreasing and continues to decrease as it improves. An IBM PC, to cite an example, costs the 2023 equivalent of nearly $3000 when it was launched in 1981.

Now you can buy a computer which outperforms that original desktop by orders of magnitude for a couple of hundred dollars. In real-world terms, however, the cost of telematics is negligible compared to other inputs like fuel, maintenance, wages, and insurance says Andrew.

“For the typical interstate operator, Teletrac Navman’s telematics solutions works out to cost around 1.8 cents per kilometre, all the while providing access to increased productivity, Smart OBM, electronic work diaries and paperless objective evidence, among other benefits,” he notes.

That’s before accessing the latest in AI camera technology, as well as proactive risk mitigation, and the ability to manage compliance by exception. Teletrac Navman’s telematics solutions, as another added benefit, don’t have any upfront costs.

While telematics, as Andrew maintains, can’t control variables like the weather, road conditions or other road-users, it does provide a direct safety benefit by monitoring driver behaviour and equipment performance over both the short and long-term.

“For operators, this means having the ability to mitigate risk,” he says. “Telematics can’t force a change in driver behaviour, or ensure businesses are running their operations safely. Having telematics in place certainly doesn’t mean you’ll be running a 100 per cent safe operation — there are too many variables outside operator and driver control, and technology can’t replace skill and good judgement.”

What it does mean, however, is managers and operators now have the tools and the information at hand to see what needs to change, and then, proactively, make those changes.

Telematics, for instance, can provide insights into driver behaviour and managers can use this information to inform their coaching programs. It also allows preventative maintenance, avoiding potentially dangerous on-road breakdowns.

“The driver behind the wheel also benefits because they’ll be alerted to risks like distracted driving, speeding, harsh braking, and a close following distance,” says Andrew. “These alerts then let the driver respond in the moment to reduce the risk of an incident occurring.”

Sometimes things do go wrong. That’s a reality. And if they do, telematics, according to Andrew, has a vital role to play by allowing managers to communicate with their drivers, get their location in real-time and direct emergency services to their location if needed.

“This constant communication is a critical safety benefit, and one which shouldn’t be overlooked,” he says.

In fact, it can pave the way for improved compliance and reporting.

The road network is, obviously, critical to the transport sector and telematics provides the tools government agencies and industry bodies need to offer assurance around heavy vehicle access to the network.

Real-time OBM weighing systems, for example, measure the mass of axle groups and calculate gross vehicle mass, while TMA records important positional information, providing valuable insights into truck movements.

The latest OBM and TMA technologies allows operators to reduce costs and improve their return on investment according to Andrew.

“It means operators can move more with less and run their trucks at higher mass limits, improving productivity, creating fewer trips for drivers, as well as reducing CO2 emissions and an increase in safety,” he says.

“While costs are at the forefront of operators’ minds every cent counts.”

Technology can promote rewards for drivers, whose individual safety scorecards can be cause for celebrating safe driving and allowing the creation of improvement plans which will have a tangible impact on reducing overall risk.

Telematics, after all, isn’t just a compliance necessity. It’s also a valuable tool to improve driver and road-user safety.

While risk, Andrew acknowledges, can’t be completely eliminated, telematics provides the means for operators to mitigate risk, creating better outcomes for everyone.

“With the 3G shutdown approaching, now is the time for fleets to update their telematics,” he says.

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