Universal application of driverless cars is some way off yet, but the ‘connected vehicle’ is already gaining widespread traction in New Zealand as the next best thing when it comes to managing driver behaviour, safety and productivity.
New Zealand companies are using advances in GPS tracking technology to help meet their obligations under the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, going so far as to ensure that employees arrive home safely, but productivity and cost control are also right up there on the priority list.
CEO of New Zealand car leasing and finance company Driveline, Lance Manins, says that applications include ring fencing employees homes to make sure they get home at night, and the use of G-Force Meters that alert management the instant a vehicle is involved in a collision.
“GPS tracking systems have advanced in leaps and bounds, but the way in which the technology is used demonstrates how seriously New Zealand companies are taking employee safety.
“The main issue is around privacy and employees taking offence at being tracked, but the company does own the vehicle, and Kiwis are becoming more desensitised to technology overall, which all helps contribute to widespread acceptance,” he said.
Signs that privacy around vehicle usage may be a thing of the past include a recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals finding in New York City, which ruled the NYC and the taxi commission were allowed to track taxi drivers for signs of cheating.
Popular applications for the technology include:
- Monitoring employee safety and driving habits
- Measuring mileage, fuel and maintenance costs
- Securing the vehicle against theft by location tracking
- Measuring and managing employee productivity and time
- Fringe benefit tax reporting
- The ability to disable a vehicle when payments fall behind
Mr Manins said proper monitoring not only contributes to employee and road safety, but reduces costs through savings on fuel consumption, tyre wear, maintenance and engine stress.
“The technology allows management to assess how a driver accelerates, or whether he is using the brake too much – small indicators of driver skill – to determine whether or not a particular driver needs advanced driving lessons.
“Companies can even set fuel saving challenges for employees to incentivise cost saving and to encourage people to drive more fuel efficiently and sensibly – the technology can now provide reportable outcomes for monitoring and reporting on those outcomes,” he said.
A single unit typically costs $300, with a monthly $25 management fee to the company handling the telemetry.