Silly season fleet crime: Protect your drivers, cargo and vehicles
Duma Ngcobo, Chief Operating Officer at Tracker

Tracker’s aggregated vehicle crime data recorded from 2017 reveals an increase in fleet crime annually during the months of October and November. This can be attributed to criminals taking advantage of the additional fleet activity by businesses stocking up on inventory and a larger volume of deliveries in response to shopping events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the festive season frenzy.

More fleet vehicles are hijacked than stolen during this time of year, a rising trend with 2022 reflecting a 64% hijacking versus 36% theft split, up from a 61% to 39% national split in 2020, and a 53% versus 47% split in 2018. Given the time of year, vehicles are targeted for their loads and for cash. Where the hijacked loads have been reported to Tracker, 81% of these were fast moving consumable goods (FMCG) including alcohol, clothing, groceries, couriered parcels through online sales platforms, homeware and medication.

Tracker encourages fleet owners or companies to prepare for this period by operating a well-maintained fleet of vehicles, conducting driver training and employing an effective fleet monitoring solution.

Conduct routine vehicle inspections, repair and maintenance ahead of the peak period to help prevent breakdowns which will make drivers and vehicles more vulnerable to crime. Have policies and procedures in place, for instance, a ban on giving a lift to hitchhikers, how to check on vehicle safety, and what actions to take in the event of a breakdown or accident. Consider training on how to prevent a hijacking.

Use vehicle telematics to track and monitor vehicles for safety purposes. Artificial intelligence-based software enables real-time route management and planning of alternate, safer routes when obstructions, heavy traffic congestion or poor road conditions are flagged. It delivers analytics that provides full visibility at an operational level regarding all aspects of transport management. Through an interactive dashboard, the fleet manager obtains real-time insights, including real-time tracking of vehicles and delivery status, which empowers fleet managers to make immediate decisions.

Further benefits from the increased visibility includes the ability to track trends and patterns from the data, such as increased crime incidents and poorly maintained roads, allowing for the creation of journey plans taking these factors into account and avoiding certain routes or areas.

Technology can also play a crucial role in incident management and post-incident investigations. The latest artificial intelligence-enabled dashcams incorporate software on the device to automatically record video footage before and after an event based on pre-configured capture triggers, and forward real-time alerts to fleet managers with these segments of footage.

These artificial intelligence dashcams also provide immediate improved safety for drivers by monitoring driver attentiveness through facial recognition and alerting the driver in real-time through a speaker, in response to triggers like drowsiness, distraction, safety belt usage and mobile phone usage. In this way possible incidents can be avoided.

Driver and fleet safety is further enhanced by the facial recognition on the edge coupled with a live look-in service. In the event an unknown driver enters the vehicle, the functionality will trigger an alert to notify the control centre of the unauthorised driver. The control centre can then look in on the activity taking place in the cabin and take appropriate action, possibly avoiding the loss of the vehicle and cargo.

“Vehicle telematics has evolved from simple tracking devices to smart devices,” says Duma Ngcobo, Chief Operating Officer at Tracker. “We recommend using the insights provided by vehicle telematics and related software to protect drivers, cargo and vehicles. Have cameras inside and outside the cab that can be monitored 24/7 by the company’s fleet team. Having two-way radios in the cab is also a good option as this will allow the driver to contact and alert the fleet team.”

“In addition to artificial intelligence dashcams, standout safety features for business tracking services include an assist button, the ability for drivers to share their journeys with fleet managers, impact detection and accident assistance, theft retrieval and cargo door sensors. Additional functionality can include armed response on demand. Furthermore, we recommend trailer tracking units that will assist your telematics company to recover the cargo,” concludes Ngcobo.