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Charles Tasker, MiX Telematics: The necessity of Telematics in Middle East and Africa

Safety and Driver Behaviour are key priorities for multinationals having a fleet in Africa Middle East. No wonder that the need and use of Telematics is on fleet manager’s minds. Four primary factors are driving fleet demand for vehicle telematics systems in the Middle East and Africa; efficiency, safety, compliance and security.

The immediacy of telematics data allows fleet operators to act instantly when they identify a higher risk situation, whether that arises from a driver or a third party, said Charles Tasker, chief operating officer of MiX Telematics.
The company’s systems track more than 600,000 vehicles worldwide, with MiX Telematics operating in 120 countries via its own offices (in South Africa, the UK, the USA, Uganda, Brazil, Australia and the UAE) plus partner networks.
“We are trying to drive efficiencies in people’s businesses,” said Charles Tasker. “We want to save them money and make them money. So, one of the things we do is journey management. Let’s question the need for the journey – do we need to make it?”
Telematics data can highlight duplicated journeys and inefficient routes, and as always, the mile not driven is not only the cheapest mile, but also the safest.
“We had a large telco that when they started with us had 12,000 pick-up trucks. Today they have got about 7,000 pick-ups doing the same work. They have got more efficient and driven better utilisation,” said Tasker.
Saving lives
Road safety is also a primary motive for fleets to introduce a telematics system in the Middle East and Africa.
“We can make drivers safer road users and there is no doubt that we save lives of both our customers’ employees and other road users,” said Tasker.
“It’s the whole spectrum around safe driving, so it starts with driver behaviour modification.”
Vehicle monitoring by telematics identifies and records instances of drivers exceeding the speed limit, driving without a seatbelt, braking harshly, accelerating aggressively and cornering too quickly, all of which are evidence of unsafe driving.
“We can create a profile of a driver and very accurately identify whether the person is a safe driver, a middling driver or an accident waiting to happen,” said Tasker.
“We can then give immediate feedback in the cab either by a sound, a voice or a screen. The information is then also brought into the back office for corrective action to be taken in terms of training. Drivers don’t come to work to drive badly. For those drivers who drive badly, it’s probably just an element of a lack of training and getting into bad habits.”
Driver profiling
This identification of higher risk drivers can also deliver significant savings, allowing fleets both to respond rapidly and prioritise training resource where it’s most needed, rather than automatically retraining every driver.
The tight regulations that govern driving, especially of heavy goods vehicles, in most developed markets do not always apply in the Middle East and Africa, but Tasker reports that multi-national fleets are using telematics to ensure their operations comply with global best practice in all countries, especially with hours of service.
“Where the hours of service are not legislated, we are seeing responsible operators understand they have a duty of care to the people that drive these vehicles. Companies want to make sure that they do not put fatigued drivers on the road. They want to take the appropriate amount of care to ensure their drivers are not working shifts that are untenable, putting the drivers and other road users at risk.”
Security represents the other side of the risk coin, and in areas where the rule of law is less well established, telematics is helping fleets to track and maintain the security of their drivers, vehicles and loads, enabling them to take swift action if something goes wrong. Exception reporting that signals immediately when a vehicle deviates from its route or enters a hazardous area gives fleets the opportunity to respond rapidly.



Authored by: Céline Gilson