Anything that monitors fleet is an advantage, says Steven Thompson, and as head of transport at West Yorkshire Police, he knows
In the first year of introducing a telematics driving system into the West Yorkshire Police force’s vehicles, annual mileage dropped from 19 million to 18 million, costs fell by 20%, and accident rates in one fleet reduced by 34%.
The drop in mileage was largely down to a change in mentality, says Thompson, with unnecessary journeys being cut out.
“Police forces have high collision rates, and ours were higher than many other forces, which is why we initially fitted telematics,” he says. “And because officers understood the reason they were being fitted into the cars, there was little resistance.”
Within a year, Leeds district fell from being the force with the highest collision rate to middle ranking, and the same happened when telematics were fitted in Bradford, he says. “That gave us evidence to fit them in all vehicles.”
To counter resistance to being monitored, point out the benefits, many of which are particularly relevant to police drivers, he advises. “There are plenty of allegations about officers doing something like driving at speed or always parking outside an address. With telematics, supervisors can log in and confirm the situation.”
Cutting maintenance costs by monitoring driving skills is also pertinent for police drivers. “Sometimes our vehicles are used beyond the national speed limit – and sometimes drivers come down three or four gears in one go. By monitoring the driving, you build up a profile and can provide training to show correct driving procedures.”
Telematics is expensive, and to make it worthwhile means monitoring the data and addressing the issues. If not, he warns, people won’t bother about the results because they are not held accountable.
Thompson’s current fleet features mainly marked response Peugeot 308s, Ford Transit vans and Mercedes Sprinters, and unmarked high performance BMW 3-series and X5 4x4 for high speed pursuits and armed response.