Driving for work is one of the riskiest activities undertaken by workers on a day-to-day basis, and time pressure (leading to speeding) is known to be an important risk factor for work-related driving.

The rise of home delivery has brought with it a likely increase in time-pressured work-related driving activity, and finding ways to manage this risk will be important within the context of a wider safe-system approach to road safety. Telematics products (broadly – technologies either in the vehicle or on a device such as a smart phone that monitor driver behaviour in some way) show great promise in managing this risk, but little work has examined this issue in detail in the home delivery sector.

In this research, several activities were undertaken to understand if and how telematics is used in the home delivery sector to monitor speed. These activities were:

  • An online survey with 780 home delivery drivers
  • In-depth interviews with 20 fleet managers who use telematics
  • In-depth interviews with 39 delivery drivers (18 using telematics, 21 not)
  • A workshop with practitioners in the industry to discuss findings

The quantitative data collected from surveys among drivers showed the following findings related to telematics use:

  • Telematics users were more likely to drive medium to large vans than non-users and were more likely
  • to drive a vehicle they did not own.
  • Telematics users were more likely than non-users to report that they had injured someone in a crash and damaged their vehicle while working.
  • Telematics users were more likely than non-users to report that they had attended a speed awareness course.
  • Telematics users were more likely than non-users to report having been trained on managing road risk.
  • Telematics users with ‘in-vehicle’ (rather than ‘app-based’) technologies were more likely to report the use of their data in things like in-company comparisons and management of risk.

For reported damage collisions, multivariate analysis showed that predictors of reporting being involved in a damage collision was related to gender, the size of the vehicle, vehicle ownership some hazardous behaviours such as parking and distraction caused by mobile phone apps, and driving violations.

There was no significant association between being involved in a damage collision and being set personal targets, using telematics or higher mileage or agreement that they at times drove over the speed limit or went through red lights whilst under pressure.

The qualitative data collected from managers showed that although many reported using telematics to manage the safety of drivers, this claim was very often followed by a description of the value of financial benefits. Safety was very rarely mentioned as a goal, and the mental model of managers around driving safety clearly lags behind the research evidence; managers reported, for example, tolerating ‘minor’ speeding.

Telematics were also used often for their benefits in supporting the operational needs of the business, for example in helping customers know when to expect deliveries. Managers also reported a benefit of telematics as being the time this technology had freed up in their role to add value in other areas.

Drivers in general reported pressure in the home delivery role to speed, take risks, park illegally and drive while distracted and fatigued, to get their job done. However, drivers using telematics did believe that they were used to safety ends, as well as for managing information flow to clients and helping manage driver location. Drivers using telematics generally reported wanting to have their good behaviour highlighted, as well as understanding risky driving. Drivers not using telematics viewed it with suspicion.