Legal Risk to Ignoring Your Fleet Telematics Data

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Fleets failing to use their installed telematics systems to track and respond to drivers’ behaviour could be exposing themselves to potentially costly legal action, telematics firm In Car Cleverness warned.

“Having visibility of potentially dangerous or poor driving habits and then not acting upon it appropriately leaves individuals and businesses liable in the eyes of the law,” Tim Eaves, the company’s commercial director, said. Businesses that ignore information gleaned from telematics systems about their operations could be found guilty of ‘willful blindness’ when accidents occur.

It’s not enough to simply track drivers’ behaviors, Eaves explain. Fleet managers need to act upon the data, alerting drivers of their mistakes, having them undergo further training, or possibly reprimanding or sidelining the worst offenders.

“In simple terms, ‘wilful blindness’ means turning a blind eye and, quite apart from the material cost savings that telematics can deliver, fleet operators may soon find there’s a legal reason to further underpin the financial benefits,” Eaves explained. In Car Cleverness claims its systems deliver at least a 10% savings for fleets by reducing fuel consumption and cutting down insurance and maintenance costs by flagging inefficient, erratic, and dangerous driving.

Legal concerns are one of the main reasons cited by fleets that opt against implementing telematics systems. They worry about being culpable for an accident if telematics data showed a driver regularly sped or drove recklessly and the fleet didn’t make moves to address his driving, or didn’t have enough time to do so. Despite these reservations, telematics installations are exploding. It’s estimated that by the end of 2014 more than half a million vehicles in the UK will be equipped with some form of ‘black box’ telematics.

“The number of companies adopting and relying on telematics is only going to grow. As it does so, those who are slow to minimise the risk of accidents could eventually be seen as culpable by their inaction. Once an accident has happened, it’s too late,” Eaves said.

However, accidents do occur and In Car Cleverness’s accident detection system can help minimise liability disputes after crashes by providing accurate digital reenactments of the accident should drivers or fleets need to prove exactly what happened. Should businesses face an insurance dispute following a collision, telematics data, if ignored, could expose them to high costs, but an onboard black box could help them prove their driver isn’t liable and duck thousands of pounds of damages.

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L. V. Smith

Lauren has written for a variety of publications on both sides of the Atlantic. She prefers driving Automatic.