Stricter electronic logging regulations are looming, and will change how field service organizations record the number of hours their drivers spend on the road. Fleet operators will have no choice but to implement electronic logging devices to comply with the regulations.

In the meantime, technologies such as automatic emergency braking and mobile apps that monitor driver behavior also are changing how fleet operators approach safety and compliance. The new tools, coupled with the planned regulations, open new opportunities for fleet operators to improve driver safety and mitigate risk.

Here are three trends field service organizations need to watch closely to improve road safety and achieve regulation compliance:

Electronic Logging

New electronic regulations are expected to go into effect in two years. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is finalizing a rule to mandate use of electronic logging devices by fleet operators. The technology helps keep drivers and vehicles compliant with Department of Transportation Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

Electronic logging vastly improves the accuracy of driver logs. After spending long hours on the road, drivers often put off recordkeeping or enter information sloppily, resulting in errors and inconsistencies that could lead to heavy fines. The DOT says 14.8% of HOS violations are caused by how drivers enter information in logs, while 40.6% percent result from inaccurate reporting of duty status. Electronic logging automates duty changes, which improves driver log accuracy and helps keep fleets HOS-compliant in real time. Handwritten logs are replaced with traceable, auditable records that minimize violations.

Automatic Braking

Automatic emergency braking is going to become standard. There is no implementation date as of yet, but most major auto manufacturers have pledged to make the technology standard in their vehicles. Automatic brakes compensate for driver error by responding to signals from sensors, such as cameras and radar, to warn drivers and apply the brakes when there is high risk of crashing. This typically occurs when a vehicle gets too close to another vehicle while moving.

Automatic braking lowers insurance claims by as much as 35 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and federal Transportation Department. Automatic braking-equipped vehicles provide another way for field service organizations to promote safety and control insurance costs. In vehicles with in-cab data-capture devices, data on sharp, sudden braking is sent to managers who can use it to correct unsafe driver habits.

Driver Safety Data

One way field service organizations are stepping up safety and compliance efforts is by equipping drivers with mobile apps that monitor their behavior on the road and help correct habits. Accessible through smartphones and tablets, these apps function similarly to personal fitness apps, but instead track and rate driver activities, including speed and routes traveled.

The tools connect with fleet and workforce management systems, letting managers view driving scores for individuals and teams of drivers to determine who needs coaching. As such, the apps promote driver safety and help mitigate risk for the fleet operator.

Field service organizations have a vested interest in promoting safety among drivers and achieving safety regulation compliance. Electronic logging, emergency braking and mobile apps help them do both.