Historically, the transport industry has primarily used analogue radio as a preferred method of communication across drivers and fleet managers. As technology has advanced over the years, these systems have become outdated and overtaken by digital solutions that provide a more reliable means of communication. Today, the most effective and popular method for many transport operators is through integrated smartphones.
Mobile technology is an essential tool for almost every organisation and is especially useful for the transport industry. With a vastly distributed workforce in constant operation, it has enabled organisations to stay in regular contact with their employees, digitise many necessary processes, as well as delivering welcomed health and safety benefits to staff.
Smartphone technology and lone worker functionality
According to statistics from the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), the British transport industry employs over one million lone workers, and employees that face the greatest levels of risk are delivery and HGV drivers. So how can transport operators keep their drivers safe while they are on the road?
Integrated smartphone devices can combine reliable communication and comprehensive lone worker protection into a single integrated, rugged and adaptable device that can be an ideal solution for drivers to use. However, deploying smartphone technology to a fleet of drivers could potentially be dangerous. In the last year, Police officers from a fleet of three Highways England-funded HGV ‘supercabs’ identified over 3,000 unsafe delivery drivers, many of whom were driving while using a hand-held mobile phone. Fleet operators therefore do not want to encourage drivers to use a smartphone device whilst they are driving – so what is the best option to safely combine communication functionality with lone worker protection?
The most adaptable solutions are those that provide a compliant, reliable and safe solution for drivers. For example, limiting functionality when the smartphone detects that the vehicle is in motion will stop the driver from making calls, sending texts or emails, or accessing the browser while driving. Furthermore, devices can include white and blacklist capabilities so that only certain callers can contact the device, and the driver can only dial a set list of numbers.
Integrated lone worker functionality means devices can be equipped with panic buttons, tilt and no-motion sensors as well as impact alarms. So, when a driver is parked up in a layby or an estate and is more susceptible to an attack or robbery, alarms can be activated, which will then alert the appropriate response teams to provide the necessary support as quickly as possible.
Fleet operators are facing increasing regulatory challenges, which means choosing the wrong solution can have significant financial consequences. By deploying integrated devices amongst a fleet, operators can ensure that not only are they able to protect employees, but they are also complying with regulations by automating and monitoring legally required checks. For example, drivers’ hours and vehicle checks can be submitted via an app on the smartphone, negating the need for previous manual paper processes, or multiple devices.
While a smartphone may seem like a counter-intuitive device to provide to a driver to keep them safe, with an appropriate setup that disables functionality when the vehicle is in motion, fleet managers can be confident that lone worker drivers are equipped with reliable communication and safety technology that will keep them protected and legally compliant. In addition, by augmenting the device with the ability to perform digitised processes, such as vehicle checks, the device can help deliver efficiencies in the driver’s role.