Technology is leading the pack, but repair costs, the evolution of 5G, and driver safety programs round out the top four factors impacting accident management in the future.
The December 2019 issue digs into technology and accident management.
1. Rapidly Evolving Technology & Connected Trucks
Rapidly evolving technology is giving companies real-time visibility into driver behavior not trackable just a few years ago.
“It is now possible to combine a driver’s MVR, corporate fleet policies, telematics data, driver risk scoring, and accident data into a consolidated view of what’s happening behind the wheel. As a result, more and more companies are adopting a proactive approach to fleet safety,” said Rich Radi, director, product management for ARI. “Today, truly effective safety programs are built on a foundation of real-time driver behavior monitoring. Fleet operators are now empowered to address high-risk behavior to prevent collisions before they occur.”
Connected trucks communicate data and may become more popular in the future. “I see connected trucks becoming more popular as fleets continue to look at costs and how to reduce them. The connected truck can notify management of a problem quickly and can help management spot trends and driver behaviors earlier,” said Chad Henrich, truck consultant for Wheels.
2. Increased Repair Costs due to Tech
With the cost of vehicles on the rise and the technology advancements made on trucks today, it’s logical that repair costs will continue to increase as well.
“Companies with medium-duty vehicles in their fleet should recognize the need for a qualified repair facility to perform work on their vehicles as a result of a collision. It’s important to know that shops equipped to do larger vehicle repairs will be more costly for several reasons. The flat rate for labor components is usually inflated due to the need for specialized technicians. The height and weight of the vehicles often require larger equipment. Downtime should also be considered in the future as there is typically a shortage in shops equipped to do repair work, technicians required, and availability of parts since many are customized,” said Connie Brinkmann, assistant vice president of risk management for Enterprise Fleet Management.
Believing increases will be moderate until electronic components become more commonplace, Bob Martines, CEO of CCM, said, “manufacturers are not reducing the costs of new vehicles or offering replacement repair parts at favorable costs; therefore, the end-user has few options. These include used or aftermarket parts if available, repair more versus replacement, performing minimum safety-related repairs, or driving the vehicle as is until it makes it to end of its life or becomes un-useable,” he said.
With increased repair costs, there could be an impact on commercial insurance premiums when it’s time to renew a policy. “Because of the potential impact on insurance premiums, commercial fleets should have an insurance partner that understands their business and vehicles and can offer solutions for mitigating risk, minimizing exposure, and keeping premiums in balance,” Brinkmann said.
Mike Irey, senior claims adjustor for Fleet Response, sees the addition of more crash avoidance systems by medium-duty manufacturers and airbag systems installed on the larger medium-duty units, noting, “The cost in the future is only going to increase due to these avoidance systems.”
3. Increased Use of Driver Safety Programs
Even with the increased use of tech, driver safety programs help ensure a balanced approach.
“Overall, overall U.S. truck collision cost increases are a given, based on the historical data. However, driver safety programs have proven to be successful in reducing collisions and associated costs. Technology, too, continues to contribute to lessening the rate of increases. A combination of both approaches will always be the best approach for companies looking to reduce risk, keep drivers safe, and protect its brand,” said Ken Latzko, VP of Sales and Marketing for The CEI Group.
4. Evolution of 5G Networks
The continued evolution of 5G wireless networks is an area that telematics providers are monitoring closely.
“While 5G networks are poised to impact the consumer space, specifically mobile phones in the relatively near future, the lifecycle of telematics devices in vehicles is much longer. This longer lifecycle puts the technology very much on the horizon for most fleets. However, as 5G networks and compatible devices become more widely available, this technology opens the door for new, innovative ways to monitor and manage driver performance,” said Radi of ARI. "Higher speeds can make it viable and affordable to implement such technology as in-cab cameras to supplement traditional telematics data and provide further insight into driver performance.”
What do you think the future of accident management holds?
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