Author: Justin Schmid
Content Marketing Specialist
Here are some of the steps to create a telematics policy for your organization.
- Establish the guardrails
- Cover the standard requirements
- Outline what you’re monitoring
- Discuss what’s expected of drivers
- Consider acknowledgements, questions and legal review
How to Create a Telematics Policy
Lately, we’ve heard from more than a few fleet managers about the challenges rolling telematics out to their companies.
There’s a common thread among all of these situations: These are all companies that haven’t created a telematics policy. They have the hardware. They have some buy-in from management. But they don’t have the employees on board, and they don’t have policies to get everyone on the same page.
As a result, they’re running into situations where they’re not getting data from their units (hint: someone probably unplugged it). They’re not getting usable video from their cameras (obscuring the lens is a common issue).
So what’s a fleet manager to do?
Time to Create a Telematics Policy
Right now, telematics devices and software are common. More than 50% of commercial fleets use them. And it’s rare to hear drivers raise objections, with Insurance Business Magazine calling telematics “a foregone conclusion.”
Even with the wide acceptance among drivers and managers alike, it’s best to shut down any possible vector to objections. In the past, unions have argued that technology not mentioned in their driver policies shouldn’t be allowed.
Creating a driver policy before implementation is the most-effective way to handle that objection. Even if you already have telematics but no policy, it’s still not too late. Let’s look into the elements of a telematics policy.
Components of a Telematics Policy – Establish the Guardrails
Your telematics policy should address how your organization intends to use telematics devices. Commercial fleets are varied, so be sure to address a few specifics. For example, some fleets are composed of sedans used by salespeople; situations like this might even allow personal use.
On the other hand, fleets that are mostly work trucks or Class 8 vehicles are unlikely to allow personal use. It’s important to be explicit about this and other policies. It’s also helpful to discuss your goals for using telematics, such as:
- Reducing fuel use.
- Eliminating unauthorized vehicle use.
- Addressing safety concerns like speeding, hard stops, etc.
- Improving maintenance scheduling.
- Analyzing vehicle use to ensure your fleet has the right vehicles and the right number of vehicles.
Cover the Standard Requirements
You’ll want to outline quickly which vehicles will be outfitted with telematics devices, along with setting expectations for who is allowed to drive or ride in the vehicles, plus procedures authorized drivers should follow. This can include elements such as: logging into the device, completing a Daily Vehicle Inspection Report, seatbelt use, driving under the influence, and using mobile devices such as cell phones.
Cell phone use can be tricky. Some local jurisdictions have statutes against any use of mobile devices. This is a challenge since many commercial fleets rely on them for dispatching and communication. Be certain to know the laws of the jurisdictions where your vehicles will operate. Also, consider situations such as reporting traffic accidents or other emergencies.
Another important element is any possible disciplinary measures for exceeding speed limits.
Outline What You’re Monitoring
Telematics systems can track a wide array of vehicle operations. Fleet managers can set up reports for speed, location, idle times, seat belt use, and more. That list will only grow as technology improves. Informing your employees of what information your GPS solution can track is a positive step toward being transparent.
This is also a good place in the policy to discuss how you’ll evaluate the data. How often, what data, and what corrective action could managers take?
Also, discuss your organizational stance on device tampering. Make it clear how managers will approach cases of device tampering. Fleets that don’t address this could wind up without an effective recourse to deal with this problem.
Discuss What’s Expected of Drivers
New drivers and past hires alike should know if your organization requires a background check, a copy of their license, and proof that they’ve successfully completed a driver training course. That makes an acknowledgment a critical piece of your policy. Be sure that employees sign and date it, but also that department heads and team leaders sign off that they agree to uphold the policies.
Even though you’ll put a lot of work into a telematics policy, you should still view it as a living document. That means being receptive to changes from your employees.
Be sure to designate someone in your organization to receive complaints or suggestions about the policy. Provide that person’s contact information in the policy manual.
Finally, get help from your legal team or outside counsel. They can be invaluable in providing guidance on your policy.
Final Thoughts on a Telematics Policy
It’s a lot of work to write a telematics policy, but it will also make it far easier to ensure that everyone in your organization uses it properly and understands what you’re trying to accomplish.
If you’d like some help, download our Driver Policy Template above. It will get you started while also allowing you to customize it to fit your organization’s needs. If your fleet is also considering implementing in-vehicle cameras, we have a guide to creating a camera policy, as well.