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Friday, October 06, 2017

Big Bus Tours Ltd. Continues Its Fleet Safety Journey With SmartDrive Systems

 Hertfordshire, UK 6 October, 2017 – Big Bus Tours Ltd, the largest operator of open-top sightseeing tours in the world,  has taken the next step in its ongoing commitment to road safety by investing in SmartDrive Systems’ video-based driver risk management programme across its entire London fleet. Moreover the company believes the investment will rapidly pay for itself through helping the fleet to defend against fraudulent insurance claims.

SmartDrive Systems is a leader in driving performance solutions that reduce collisions and improve fuel efficiency. Big Bus Tours has installed SmartDrive’s highest level of fleet protection, the SmartDrive® Assurance programme, in each of its 68 London buses. This combines forward-facing and interior cameras with a fully managed analysis service, as well as the SmartDrive Extended Recording option.

Big Bus Tours’ London fleet operates as The Big Bus Company. Although the driving environment is much slower and has different pressures for tour bus drivers than for service drivers, its bus drivers are nonetheless surrounded by vulnerable road users and are operating in a busy urban environment.

“We are very safety conscious,” says Big Bus Tours’ executive vice-president of operations Gerry Price. “We have a very useful existing telematics feed and we score our drivers against our internal benchmark.  Using this technology, we have already driven our baseline scores from approximately 50 down to an average of 10 across all our city locations and 25% of our drivers maintain scores below 4, which is very good.

However Big Bus Tours believes SmartDrive’s expert analysis of video-based driving events can help the company continue to reduce its work-related road risk. “We rank our drivers, fleets and cities by safety performance,” says Price. “SmartDrive Assurance gives us another layer to our driver safety programme.” 

The SmartDrive system captures ‘triggered’ events, such as harsh braking or sudden course corrections, which causes 20 seconds of video to be captured, typically 10 seconds either side of the event.  This is uploaded automatically via the cellular network, along with GPS positioning and base telematics data, to SmartDrive’s own review centre, where it is reviewed by its highly trained safety team.

The footage is analysed against dozens of pre-determined ‘observations’ or driver behaviours and assigned a risk-score in line with Big Bus Tours’ corporate policies, which is fed back to the company via a dedicated, secure on-line portal for use in driver coaching.

Critical events, such as high-impact collisions will trigger an immediate alert to relevant parties. Drivers can also manually trigger footage capture if necessary.

Big Bus Tours has used SmartDrive Systems’ platform in its US fleet for three years, where it faces much higher insurance premiums than in the UK. Its US specialist in insurance and driver behaviour has worked with the SmartDrive system extensively and believes it is a distinct enhancement to the fleet’s safety portfolio.

Despite Big Bus Tours’ excellent safety record, the company is nonetheless often a target for fraudulent claims, which are hard to defend against without video footage. This is the second factor behind Big Bus Tours’ decision to install the SmartDrive Systems programme.

“We have a big name on a big bus and so we are a target for people who make unrealistic or inaccurate claims. With the kind of objective insights the SmartDrive programme provides we can instantly disprove many of these,” Price says.

“We will likely break even on our investment with the SmartDrive system on the London fleet, simply by being exonerated on two or three minor insurance claims,” he concludes.

Although Big Bus Tours already receives a very competitive premium from its broker, the company believes the SmartDrive programme will save it considerably more in self-insured amounts and by reducing the frequency of claims.

Big Bus Tours has chosen to also implement SmartDrive Extended Recording, which gives them additional pre and post-event video insights to incidents and collisions. In their operating environment this means they can defend more easily, not only against incidents which are captured in the standard footage, but can also against claims where, in fact, no incident took place.

The interior-facing cameras, which give an unobstructed view of a driver’s actions, are a valuable coaching tool. “The biggest flag for us is drivers using mobile phones,” says Price. “That’s probably true for every fleet but it’s exacerbated by the fact that our drivers are encouraged to move slowly and are often sitting in city traffic. Mobile phone use is the biggest issue we coach against.”

The Big Bus Company drivers did voice some protest at the thought of cameras being installed but Price expects this to fade quickly. “Drivers protest at every new intervention, including telematics, but when they realise the technology is a benefit and a protection for them they see it differently.”

SmartDrive Systems runs extensive driver briefings and meetings to explain the system.

“Big Bus Tours is a high profile fleet in the UK’s busy capital,” says Andy Cozens, director – strategic accounts director EMEA, SmartDrive Systems. “Managing road-risk in an urban environment is a constant challenge. We’re confident that our managed, video-based analysis programme will provide The Big Bus Company with the insights they need to identify those risks and reduce them by changing driving behaviour.”

About Big Bus Tours 

Big Bus Tours is the world’s largest operator of open-top sightseeing tours, fueling the spirit of adventure in 19 world-famous cities across four continents. Beginning its journey 25 years’ ago, with a fleet of only three buses, Big Bus Tours has swiftly expanded to a global fleet of hundreds of open-top buses, turning 4 million tourists into explorers, every year. Big Bus Tours operates in London, Dubai, Hong Kong, New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Abu Dhabi, Budapest, Istanbul, Miami, Muscat, Rome, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Darwin, Sydney, Vienna and Washington DC, with a sightseeing concept designed to provide a flexible approach to city discovery. Each open-top bus tour provides a hop-on, hop-off facility at a variety of interesting locations, with complimentary additions to enhance the visitor sightseeing experience. In February 2015, private equity firm Exponent purchased Big Bus Tours, with a shared vision to make Big Bus Tours the number one thing to do in each world-famous city.  In 2016, Merlin Entertainments PLC became a shareholder, offering a natural synergy with Big Bus Tours and Merlin attractions and experiences around the world. With entertaining guides and commentary and knowledge of the latest events in each city, the Big Bus City Crew leaves every passenger with a story to tell. A perfect city companion, The Big Bus Tours app includes tour highlights, city guides and map and real-time bus tracking, downloadable at

For more information join log onto the Big Bus Tours website

About SmartDrive Systems

SmartDrive Systems, the recipient of Frost & Sullivan’s Customer Value Leadership Award for Video Safety Solutions, gives fleets and drivers unprecedented driving performance insight and analysis, helping save fuel, expenses and lives. Its video analysis, predictive analytics and personalized performance program help fleets improve driving skills, lower operating costs and deliver significant ROI. With an easy-to-use managed service, fleets and drivers can access and self-manage driving performance anytime, anywhere. The company, which is ranked as one of the fastest growing companies by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, has compiled the world’s largest storehouse of more than 200 million analyzed risky-driving events. SmartDrive Systems is based in San Diego, and employs over 650 people worldwide.

For more information on SmartDrive Systems, please visit

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Media Contact:

Penny Randall for SmartDrive Systems Ltd
+44 07904 204412