When it comes to events like traffic violations and accidents, would you rather predict these occurrences before they happen or track them after the fact? Naturally, most people would choose the former option. However, many fleet owners and operators look at lagging indicators like speeding tickets, accidents, and excessive fuel spending when analyzing the safety and productivity of their drivers.
As the name implies, a lagging indicator follows an event that has already happened. While lagging indicators do provide you with useful information about your fleet, fleet managers who are looking to save money and time prefer to look at leading indicators. A leading indicator signals future events that are likely to take place. In this article, we’ll examine three common lagging indicators and the leading indicators fleet managers should be analyzing instead.
Lagging Indicator #1: Speeding Tickets
Police encounters are never good news for drivers of commercial vehicles or their fleet managers. It goes without saying that you’d rather identify speeding in your fleet before the police do. This can be accomplished through the use of GPS fleet tracking software that enables you to get notifications in real time when drivers exceed limits.
To determine the leading indicator, ask: Why are drivers speeding?
Identifying speeding behavior is a good start, but you also want to know why drivers are speeding. The root cause of the problem is always a better leading indicator than the problem itself. In some cases, the problem may stem from inefficient fleet management. Are drivers overscheduled and therefore feeling as though they need to rush to get to jobs on time? You may want to consider software that enables you to improve your scheduling so all drivers have the time they need.
Of course, speeding is still not the right thing for drivers to do! By using vehicle data to see which drivers are speeding, you can easily determine who is most likely to get a ticket. Then, you can implement a proactive safety program that reminds drivers why it’s never worth it to speed.
Lagging Indicator #2: Collisions and Claims
No fleet owner wants to hear that a driver has been involved in a collision. Granted, two-vehicle collisions involve two drivers, and your driver may not be the one at fault, and this is something that will be determined in the insurance claim. However, if your driver is involved in multiple collisions, you may start to wonder what has gone wrong regardless of what the claim says.
Leading indicators of collisions and claims:
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
Looking at information such as which drivers are speeding allows you to predict not only who might get a ticket but who might be involved in a crash. Aggressive driving is another sign that a driver may get into an accident. With vehicle data, you can see not only where drivers go and whether they speed to get there, but you can also see if they have a habit of accelerating harshly. Like speeders, harsh accelerators are good candidates for driver safety programs!
Distracted driving is also a common cause of collisions. Are your drivers texting or browsing the internet on the road? Or are they distracted because they aren’t getting enough sleep? You may need to use fleet tracking software to manage compliance with Hours of Service regulations, which exist to ensure that drivers get enough rest and don’t spend too many hours at once on the road.
Lagging Indicator #3: Excessive Fuel Spend
The cost of fuel is a constant concern for every fleet. Wasting fuel hurts your margins and should be avoided at all costs, but it happens all too often.
Leading indicators of excessive fuel spend may include:
- Drivers not taking the most efficient routes
- Drivers taking personal trips
- Excessive idling
- Speeding and harsh acceleration
Preventing drivers from joyriding is another area where GPS fleet tracking comes in handy. If you see drivers taking inefficient routes or even going outside of their job routes entirely, you can certainly predict that your fuel spend will be greater.
Another behavior that contributes to high fuel spend is excessive idling. Some drivers may feel that idling is necessary due to misconceptions about how long a vehicle takes to “warm up,” or they may just not realize how wasteful it is. Vehicle data can show you how often and how long drivers are idling. Then, you can ask why and start educating drivers accordingly. Speeding and harsh acceleration, in addition to putting drivers at risk for tickets and accidents, are also behaviors that waste fuel.
Don’t lag behind with lagging indicators. Take the lead with leading indicators!
A combination of both types of indicators is ideal, but focus on the leading indicators first. When you look at cause instead of just effect, you’ll find that your fleet is more productive and efficient than ever before.