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13 January, 2011 - 11:38 By News Desk

California firm sets up European HQ in Suffolk

SmartDrive installed in a lorry cab

SmartDrive Systems, a hi-tech company from California that has developed a revolutionary new system for improving road safety for the haulage and fleet industry, has set up its European base in Bury St Edmunds.

The move was assisted by East of England Investor Development (EEID), the regional body that supports overseas investors in the region funded by the East of England Development Agency. SmartDrive Systems Inc., which employs 300 people globally, installs specially designed video recorders in the cabs of trucks and other vehicles that capture high quality video 15 seconds before and after an event such as a sudden stop, swerve, collision or excessive speed. The system is aimed at reducing road accidents by helping to improve driver performance with recorded video sequences assessed by SmartDrive’s professional safety reviewers.It alerts fleet managers of any issues and they can then review the incident with the driver and coach them to improve their driving behaviour. Deploying the system can also significantly bring down insurance costs for fleet operators and the video material can help expedite the claims process and mitigate fraudulent claims. In setting up in the region, which is home to a number of large haulage firms and other major fleet operators, one of the company’s first customers to use the system is Hertfordshire based Reynolds Catering Supplies that has a fleet of 180 delivery vehicles. Reynolds, which includes customers such as Pret a Manger and Pizza Express, has seen a 61 per cent decrease in the number of collisions and reduced its annual insurance costs by over £250,000, representing a better than 4-to-1 yield on the company’s investment in SmartDrive. Managing director of SmartDrive UK, Steve Cowper, said: “The innovative road safety technologies and programmes we offer will help fleet operators across the UK and Europe to identify and reduce risks before a serious incident happens. “The support, advice and specialist experience provided by EEID has contributed to our early success and helped us quickly establish ourselves in the UK market. Being based in Suffolk means we are close to a large number of fleet operators based in London, the South East and the Midlands.”• PHOTOGRAPH: SmartDrive installed in a lorry cab

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