What is IVMS or an In-Vehicle Monitoring System?

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An in-vehicle monitoring system, or IVMS, is a system that builds up objective evidence of how safe or risky a driver is. It tracks driving habits that increase the risk of accidents, like speeding, sudden braking and cornering too fast.

The data comes from a vehicle tracker with an accelerometer wired to the battery and ignition. Accelerometers measure the speed of vehicles accurately. If you just have a simple vehicle tracker, it can work out the rough speed using GPS location but it’s not precise like an accelerometer.

This device transmits a signal continuously, which goes to a server that stores all the data. The IVMS software converts this into an amazing amount of intelligence on the way the driver is handling the vehicle, and interacting with the road and other drivers.

In-Vehicle Monitoring Systems for types of vehicle where a crash could be catastrophic, like lorries transporting gas, oil and explosive chemicals for example, also have cameras in the cab which show if the driver is using a phone, smoking or not wearing a seatbelt.

An infographic explaining IVMS

Who is an IVMS useful for?

In the not too distant future, In-Vehicle Monitoring Systems (IVMS) will probably be an obligatory part of fleet insurance for all businesses. Their potential to reduce road accidents is well-proven.

What is less well-known is the list of ways they can save small businesses money even if they have just a few vehicles, whether their fleets consist of multi-stop delivery drivers on the road all day or workers who just drive from job to job and spend far less time behind the wheel.

Currently, In-Vehicle Monitoring Systems are mostly used by public transport vehicles, where drowsy driving or any reckless behaviour could have devastating consequences for a large number of people. They are also widely used by companies involved in mining, transporting oil and gas in tankers and transporters of other potentially dangerous cargos. In companies like these, making sure drivers put safety first is obviously essential.

Two red buses driving through London

What many smaller businesses do not realise is that using an IVMS can be very cheap. Prices can start at around £30 a month. The potential ways to save money by using an IVMS mean they pay for themselves every month many times over. What’s more, many IVMS are not time-consuming to use because several very user-friendly systems are available to UK smaller businesses.

There will soon be no typical IVMS user. They bring cash benefits to huge fleets and also to micro-businesses with only one vehicle. Read on to find out how!

What will an IVMS tell me about my drivers?

An IVMS will tell you where drivers go and how they handle your vehicles. Most systems focus on logging five specific driving habits:

  1. speeding
  2. harsh accelerating
  3. cornering too fast
  4. sudden braking
  5. leaving the engine idling

Every time a driver does any of these, IVMS software within a telematics system keeps a record of the time and location.

A table of IVMS driving habit scores

It then aggregates this data into a single score for each of these five habits. In many systems, it’s a percentage like an exam result. This makes masses of data about driver safety digestible.

These scores can refer to the last week or month, and in some systems each day. This score means you can compare each driver against the others, and also compare an individual driver’s month-by-month progress.

You also get an aggregated score for the four dangerous driving habits put together. Leaving the engine idling is excluded from this score, because insurance companies are not interested in it – it wastes money on fuel but it doesn’t increase the risk of an insurance claim for an accident. This single aggregated score is almost always a number close to one. If it is a bit less than one, your drivers are riskier than average and if it is over one, they are safer than most.

Search IVMS providers with user-friendly software

How can an IVMS save my business money?

Lots of small businesses up and down Britain have an IVMS already as part of their telematics system, yet they never use it. Why? For some, it’s because they don’t know how to – they chose a system that is over-complicated and doesn’t present the information clearly. For others, they don’t realise how it could be useful to them, so they ignore it.

There are three main ways that an IVMS as part of your telematics system could save your business money, even if you are a really small company.

Firstly, an IVMS tracks driving habits that cause vehicle wear and tear. Stamp these out for less maintenance work and less time off the road. Secondly, it can show up habits that waste fuel, and how much is wasted. Finally, an IVMS tracks habits that cause accidents. Good brokers use this data to negotiate lower insurance premiums on your behalf. Having fewer accidents also means the load your vehicles are transporting is at less risk of damage, and saves you hours of time dealing with insurance claims and vehicle repairs.

A table of IVMS driving habit scores

What are the other benefits of IVMS vehicle tracking?

Apart from the financial benefits, there are safety considerations.

Your drivers should not be driving if they are too tired. Your IVMS can alert you to this possibility with in-app alerts or emails. Although phoning your driver up to send him home may cause friction and inconvenience, it’s better in the long run than having someone injured or a vehicle wrecked.

You can also take care of your drivers should the worst happen. An IVMS can let you know the minute an accident happens so you can check if your driver needs help, and exactly where he is. Sending emergency services without delay can make a real difference to the outcome.

For vehicles in which safety is critical, the IVMS can include cameras that face inwards and look at the driver. Transmitted video footage will show an office-based employee if the driver is not wearing a seat belt, using a phone, smoking, nodding off or doing anything else that could elevate the level of risk.

What exactly will an IVMS tell me?

Below, we talk through the categories of data an IVMS will give you and how you can make use of this information.

IVMS speeding reports

Did you know that for every 5 miles per hour a driver increases his speed, it raises the likelihood of having a crash by 8%? An IVMS system will tell you every time your drivers go over the limit, and by how  much.

You can re-train your drivers to stay within the speed limit with “speed awareness” courses, if necessary, to reduce insurance claims. Making fewer insurance claims can reduce the price of your fleet insurance premiums by up to 30% over a period of three years. It’s like a no-claims bonus on individual vehicle insurance, but it’s more of a “fewer claims bonus” for fleets.

Stopping your drivers speeding will reduce the wear and tear on your engines, meaning you don’t waste money with vehicles off the road for servicing. Keeping your drivers safe from injury by stamping out speeding is important too. Remember, it’s not just your drivers either. It’s also the pedestrians and other drivers they could injure, which could potentially be a disaster for your company.

A Shell fuel tanker

What about the load being transported? Do your drivers carry things that could get damaged, or cause harm, in a crash? Some smaller businesses in the UK may not have considered how their business would cope with the cash flow interruption, or the hike in insurance at next renewal, if they suffered the destruction of goods in transport.

Harsh acceleration IVMS reports

Putting an end to “boy-racer” accelerating away from traffic lights will certainly save your business money on fuel.

Did you know drivers who habitually accelerate as fast as they can use a third more fuel than drivers with smoother control at the wheel? Obviously you will reduce wear and tear on the throttle as well, which is damaged when undue pressure is repeatedly applied.

Looking up at a pair of traffic lights

Reckless cornering IVMS reports

You can reduce the risk of accidents through reckless cornering, which is reported in all IVMS. Consistently, the world over, more than 50% of crashes happen on or by corners.

This is one of the reasons that insurers give cheaper insurance to fleets that spend most of their driving time on motorways – you can read more on this below. Persistent harsh cornering suggests a driver is not fully in control of the vehicle and such drivers are statistically far more likely to be the guilty party in a crash.

Protect the reputation of your business, too. Remember, it is your logo on the side of that vehicle which is racing around corners and cutting in on other drivers.

Harsh braking IVMS reports

Every incident of harsh braking is reported in an IVMS.

Are your drivers nodding off at the wheel? Do they tailgate other drivers? Whether it’s drowsy driving or aggressive behaviour towards other vehicles, if you get to the bottom of why your drivers are slamming on their brakes at the last minute, you can intervene and reduce the probability of accidents.

You can also save money on fuel and vehicle maintenance by stamping out harsh braking. Sudden stops cause quicker wear-and-tear on the brake pads and rotors. Good drivers read the road ahead and press the pedals more smoothly.

IVMS Idling reports

Did you know, if you leave an average car idling for half an hour every day, it takes just two months to waste a complete tank of petrol? Meanwhile an idling 3.5 tonne HGV gets through anything from two to five litres of diesel every hour.

Idling reports in an IVMS tell you the total time each driver left the engine idling while their vehicle was stopped.

You can also opt for ready-made alerts, so you find out as soon as it happens. Getting a phone call from your boss to say “Turn off the engine now!” is a highly effective way to stop drivers wasting the diesel that you have to pay for!

You don’t just save money, you also reduce your fleet’s carbon footprint. This is certainly a no-brainer if your company sells environmentally-friendly or ecological products and, frankly, we at iCompario think everyone on the planet should care about this. We won’t be allowed to buy fossil fuel vehicles from 2035 onwards, so let’s not race to cause as much damage as we can before then.

iCompario tip: Before choosing a telematics system with IVMS, ask about how the data is presented. Aim for the simplest presentation possible.

Some systems have really snazzy graphs and other impressive features, but they often make it over-complicated to get to or interpret. Adding more details than you really need usually means you end up not using that functionality at all.

Incentivise drivers to help you save money with your IVMS

Most drivers suddenly start sticking to the speed limit the minute they know your vehicle tracking system has an IVMS included. This “Big Brother” effect kicks in like magic, just because they know they’re being watched. You don’t even have to log into the software and use it to start getting some benefit!

Experts in the industry find that for most companies there’s about a 20% to 30% improvement in IVMS driver scores in the first week because of the big brother effect. This fits with the observations of the iCompario team members who have past experience working in the vehicle tracking industry.

A man smiling leaning out of the window of his van

To take complete advantage of the cost savings your IVMS can achieve, you do need to step in with a little intervention.

These are our suggestions that might work for your company.

Explain it to your drivers

Talking to your team is the essential first step for all businesses.

Many drivers feel that having vehicle tracking technology, of any kind, installed in the van or car they drive means their employer doesn’t trust them. Explaining the benefits outlined on this page is the best way to get your drivers on board. Nobody wants to be in a car crash. You can describe the safety advantages for your employees, and the improvement in cost control for the business as a whole.

They are more likely to be enthusiastic if you then add in a few of the incentives listed below.

Competition and rewards

You could print off the driver score for all your drivers at the end of each week or month and either fix it up in the office or depot, or send it round to everyone. If you give some kind of prize to the best driver, your other employees are likely to join in with some competition.

We know some companies that give their best driver of the month a bonus half-day off. Others give out gifts of even a little pay bonus. If you compare the cost of having a van off the road to be repaired versus the price of a bottle of wine, it’s easy to see this is a major economic win for you.

Reward individual improvement

Giving benefits to individual drivers for improving over time is another approach, which may work better for small companies with only a few drivers. You could set your driver an objective to improve each week versus the last.

Again, this doesn’t demand much of your time when you compare it against the time you might waste dealing with even a straightforward insurance claim.

A phone call from the boss

Some companies simply phone a driver if he’s done something really dangerous and let him know they are not pleased.

Your telematics system will tell you when the driver stops, so you know it’s safe to phone. There’s nothing like knowing you will get a call from the boss to say “You just did an emergency stop, tell me what happened” to keep safe stopping distances at the front of a driver’s mind.

This doesn’t mean you have to be watching your telematics app all day. Some systems let you opt in for app alerts or emails that let you know when drivers do certain things – you can choose what you’re interested in from a list. In other systems, you have to set alerts up for yourself.

When choosing a vehicle monitoring system with an IVMS, ask for a list of available alerts and what the process is for activating them.

Driver re-training

You could offer additional, specific training or share driving safety tips. There are various advanced driving courses available such as “speed awareness” or “defensive driving”.

The up front cost may seem high, but when you consider the potential insurance savings can be as much as 30% of your fleet insurance, it may be a sound investment.

Sharing vehicles: How does the IVMS know who’s driving?

You can give each of your drivers a fob that is registered specifically to them. This is ideal if you have drivers sharing vehicles on different shifts.

A driver ID telematics fob in use

When drivers start their shift, they insert the fob so it connects with a reader fitted inside the vehicle. This makes it easy to get all your telematics information on drivers and vehicles separately.

Find IVMS providers which offer driver fobs

How can an IVMS get my business cheaper motor fleet insurance?

Insurers are interested in three things from an IVMS when quoting an insurance premium for a business motor fleet.

A table explaining influences of fleet insurance costs

The so-called risk profile, which insurance companies use to decide how much to charge you to insure a driver, is usually based on average statistics.

With telematics, your insurer can see the driver score and data for each of your drivers. With much more detail on the personal risk level of each of your drivers, the insurance company will not have to make generalisations about how likely they are to have accidents.

In reality, your IVMS can boil all your drivers’ data down to a single number per driver. Insurance companies offering fleet insurance want to know what the average number is across all your drivers. If it’s less than one, nobody will be giving you a discount on your fleet insurance this year. If it’s more than one, you can probably shop around till you find an insurer that will.

In other words, if your drivers are careful and drive safely, you will reap the benefits by having an IVMS score to send to your broker to negotiate for lower fleet insurance prices on your behalf. Not all brokers offer this, but iCompario has the details of insurance brokers which do.

Find brokers who use IVMS scores to obtain insurance price reductions

What to look for when choosing an IVMS

A car dashboard with telematics icons overlayed on it

When choosing an IVMS, the main thing to remember is that they pretty much all collect the same data. It’s also fairly safe to assume that the hardware device fitted in your vehicles – and the software that stores and analyses the data they transmit – is reliable and accurate.

The thing that distinguishes one system from another is how they present the data to you.

Some telematics systems pull out all the stops with graphs, tables you can customise umpteen ways, and statistics broken down to tiny details. They tend to look colourful and impressive. If you enjoyed maths at school, always love a good bar chart and, most importantly, have the time in your working day to read and digest this level of data, then this is the type of system you will most appreciate.

If you don’t have the time or always got a headache from maths anyway, look for something clear and simple instead. There are some systems that just spit out the key numbers and give you everything in a ready-made and digestible format. For the vast majority of businesses, this is all they need to gain all the cost savings and safety improvements that we’ve explored on this page.

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