Being a haulage company owner is not an easy feat. Fuel price increases, an unstable Rand, fraying road network infrastructure and a continuously escalating risk of hijacking plague the South African industry.
Cape Town witnessed a horrendous accident recently, where a heavy-duty truck lost its load on the N1 highway, grid-locking outbound peak-hour traffic from the city centre and causing much chaos. The incident illustrates how simple driver error can have disastrous consequences.
In addition, the rising number of inadequately skilled drivers, with little experience is also a concern for many fleet owners.
As South Africa’s leading short-term insurer, Santam is taking steps to influence driver behaviour thereby reducing road accidents and to make better risk management a key priority.
Collaborating with Libra Brokers, one of the biggest transport broker companies in South Africa, Santam is offering fleet company owners an innovative telematics system. The system uses advanced technology designed and built in South Africa to allow fleet owners to gather evidence on road conditions as well as shedding light on driver performance.
“Each owner receives an I-Cab device that is installed in the vehicle, one camera will be outwardly facing whilst the other provides an internal view of the driver,’ explains Tom Halliwell, owner of Libra Brokers.
“The cameras provide real time footage, which is directly transferred to a 24/7 monitoring room. It allows us to provide clients with a risk report on each driver, backed by video tapes and real time evidence,’ explains Halliwell.
By giving owners feedback on a real-time basis, the telematics system has the potential to reduce risk exposure of heavy trucks on roads and add value to clients in minimising loss and reducing premium increases.
“There are two types of accidents. High frequency accidents occur regularly and for various reasons. This is often due to poor road infrastructure, lack of visibility due to bad weather conditions and lack of defensive driving skills. High severity accidents occur less often but cost the insurance industry millions, if not billions of Rands of loss due to the high value of vehicles and cargo,’ explains Halliwell. These high severity losses mainly occur due to over-speeding, fatigue and hijacking.
“Our statistics clearly show that 80% of heavy commercial vehicle insurance losses implicate the driver,’ continues Halliwell. “In the past nine months, we have already seen improvements to how drivers monitor their driving behaviour. The risk report has especially helped drivers understand and evaluate their driving and this helps lessen the severity and frequency of accidents.’
He adds, “The telematics system means we are aware of an incident or accident before the owner of the truck. In this case, our first priority is the wellbeing of the driver and then securing the cargo. We then recover the vehicle and cargo and clean the site, should there have been a spillage.’
As well as road accidents, the telematics system can be used in a number of incidents, particularly hijackings. Last month’s annual crime statistics revealed that the number of truck hijackings increased by 14,9% if we compare the same period in 2011/2012 and in 2012/2013.
“At Santam, we have seen a worrying increase in claims relating to hijackings in 2013 compared to 2012. This system allows fleet owners to take a proactive rather than reactive approach when it comes to risk management and mitigate the impact of attempted hijackings, By doing so, we can help businesses reduce their risk and, ultimately, the disruption to their operations,’ explains Shehnaz Somers, Santam’s Head of Commercial Underwriting.