Commercial fleet managers are increasingly subject to a raft of new legislation. Although requirements may vary by jurisdiction, there are many common elements. In some cases a cool head is required to negotiate the tightrope. Businesses need to keep abreast of the latest data-processing regulations in order to ensure they are not unknowingly accumulating risk in other areas.
Commercial fleet operations is a complex environment; from the pure logistical management required, through to client acquisition and retention, and recruitment and marketing, there are plenty of balls to juggle. However, one area raises arguably more pitfalls and hidden snares than any other — regulation.
The level of required legislation inevitably varies significantly from country to country. But the very nature of logistics means that this variation creates another challenge, in addition to the potential documentation headaches involved with the cargo itself. There are more than fourteen separate tranches of legislation covering UK fleet operations alone, some of which cover a host of related regulations. Managing all this legislation is a significant challenge.
One example is ‘The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998’, which requires work equipment to be suitable for its intended use, safe and inspected, and properly maintained. In the case of an HGV, this imposes a significant overhead in terms of the required checks, which cover everything from electronic warning systems to personal protective gear, tyres and control systems. Meanwhile, EU-wide regulations on environmental matters, drivers’ hours rules and other employee rights may be consistent — but are often required in addition to national regulations.
Fortunately, new technology can help to remove some of the manual checks and monitoring requirements involved in ensuring compliance. In many cases, multiple compliance requirements can be met by single, multi-use devices such as the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder. By using telematics data, for example, a manager could automate some safety checks to comply with work equipment regulations (see Telematics driving efficiency).
Tracking the Right Way
Devices such as the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder provide a technically robust tracking system integrated into a single unit thanks to the combination of GPS and 4G wireless. However, while this is a cost-effective and elegant solution, there are compliance considerations to account for. Tracking employees in Europe is a complex area, where tracking for business purposes is permitted, but illegal outside of working hours, for example. Proper communication is vital, as is ensuring clear business policies around the use of GPS data, the processing of it, and the out-of-hours use of company vehicles. Implementation of vehicle tracking should be a transparent process — indeed, covert tracking is highly likely to cross the line and infringe data privacy regulations.
The benefits of vehicle tracking are significant, with insurance premium discounts of up to 30% (due to tracked vehicles having a lower risk of theft), improved employee efficiency and lower incidence of speeding problems due to increased driver awareness.
Telematics Driving Efficiency
Vehicle telematics is another rapidly developing area, and as the range of sensors in modern vehicles increases, so does the value of harvesting and analysing this data to improve operational efficiency. Products such as the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder include CAN Bus integration for this reason, providing for a simple and cost-effective way to add telematics monitoring to fleets of all sizes. And with integrated 4G wireless, this data can be synchronised with cloud-based monitoring applications in real-time, rather than needing to wait until the vehicle is back at base.
For example, tyre-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) data might be collected before and after a trip via Wi-Fi, but any TPMS alert on the road might be transmitted over LTE, as this could indicate a developing issue. Monitoring tyre pressures is just one example of essential daily maintenance checks that can be automated, only requiring investigation if a reading is out of tolerance. Storing this data centrally is critical — not just as a clear demonstration of due diligence for meeting work equipment regulations, but also because of the potential to extrapolate valuable insights from it. For example, by comparing fuel efficiency data with load weights, tyre pressure and tyre make and model information, managers can optimize tyre selection and pressure to maximize fuel efficiency at given loads. The result might be considerable fuel efficiency savings that vastly outweigh the cost of implementing the drive recorder hardware.
The benefit of forward-facing cameras for commercial and consumer drivers alike is well known, such as the ability to provide video evidence to help resolve disputes over insurance claims. A recent survey of drivers by an insurance firm found that a quarter (25%) of drivers would like to see dashcams made compulsory in all cars, while almost a third (32%) said that dashcams should be fitted automatically in all new cars in the future.
However, while drive recorders are an established technology with considerable benefits, there are potential compliance pitfalls that need to be managed. Most importantly, the images captured by a dashcam or drive recorder in Europe will be potentially subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
GDPR came into force in May 2018. It tightens data protection rights for individuals while placing new obligations on the companies that obtain, use and store personal data. In addition, GDPR significantly raises potential fines for infractions; for the most serious breaches this can be up to €20 million, or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is higher.
In the face of such heavy penalties, it’s clear that careful handling of the data is essential and should include a policy that clearly outlines the lawful basis for the processing of personal data collected from in-vehicle cameras. There must also be a clearly-defined purpose for the use of personal data captured, and this must be communicated to the drivers operating them and also potentially to those being filmed. External notices on fleet vehicles could be a key component in this. It is also vital that a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) should be conducted for the processing of personal data, and that data should not be stored for longer than required. In many cases, firms may need to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) to handle such matters. Recorded material should also be securely stored, and only correctly trained staff should have access to it.
Compliance on The Rise
Compliance is set to become an increasingly important element of enterprise operations in every sector, not least for fleet and logistics operators, as their businesses encompass many legislative areas and geographic jurisdictions. While technology offers many opportunities to mitigate the most manual and intensive compliance processes, awareness of relevant regulation and a clear analysis of risk is essential to ensure smooth operations are maintained.