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News / Trackers installed in council’s fleet of vehicles to cut emissions and boost safety

SHETLAND Islands Council has begun installing trackers in its fleet of vehicles in an effort to curb emissions by encouraging more efficient driving.

SIC’s estate operations manager Carl Symons said one of the main aims of the scheme was to ensure the safety of lone drivers, as staff will be able to locate them if necessary.

The system, which will initially cost £190,000, is also expected to allow the local authority to successfully counter any false accusations of poor driving by providing details of speed and location.

It is thought that staff will be more inclined to drive more effectively in terms of routing as well using brakes and gears, improving the vehicles’ environmental impact and cutting down on fuel costs.

A total of 230 vehicles will have Teletrac Navman GPS equipment installed, from buses and cars and vans to bin lorries, sweepers and tractors, to provide real-time data.

Installation of trackers began on Monday and it is expected to take three weeks to implement the system.

“I think one of the main drivers for it was lone working, and the health, safety and welfare of our staff,” Symons said.

“With Shetland being fairly geographically diverse and rural, we felt had to have better systems in place. The secondary driver is that it was also part of the carbon management plan that we would be actively trying to reduce our carbon footprint, trying to be more efficient in how we use the council’s fleet.”

SIC’s infrastructure director Maggie Sandison said employees were on board with the scheme and that unions were consulted during the process.

The local authority started to look into the scheme after a lone Western Isles council driver was killed in a crash, while the Glasgow bin lorry accident in 2014 which saw six people lose their lives also focused minds.

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Alerts can be sent out if drivers are stationary for long periods of time, while panic buttons and instant messaging alerts may also be implemented.

Road-facing dashboard cameras are also set to be installed on most vehicles to give a true account of events in the event of any accidents or allegations of poor driving.

Symons rejected any notion that the council may be snooping on employees and instead said the system was designed to support staff members.

“It’s a fact that the council is a fairly big target for ambulance-chasing type lawyers and we wanted a system in place that would allow us to prove innocence,” he added.

“Over the years I’ve investigated several reported incidents with our drivers and when you look at the detail of them, the majority of cases the council was in the clear.

“This isn’t about spying in the cab. This is about protection of council employees, and to support the fact that we already know that the vast majority of our drivers are responsible.”

Three hundred and sixty degree cameras will also be added to refuse vehicles and the council’s cherry picker to allow greater visibility for drivers.

It is hoped that in the future the trackers will also allow the public to view the location of gritters during the winter months, while they will also give information about the level of grit and salt being deployed on roads.

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