Pilot Test of Low-Cost Driving Behavior Management System
Motor vehicle crashes are often predictable and preventable. Yet, many drivers choose to behave in ways that put themselves and others at risk for a vehicle crash and/or serious injuries. At-risk driving behaviors include violating speed limits, excessive speed/lateral acceleration on curves, unplanned lane departures, frequent hard braking, close following distances, lateral encroachment (e.g., during attempted lane changes, perhaps due to improper mirror use), failure to yield at intersections, general disobedience of the rules-of-the-road, etc. Performing at-risk driving behaviors is likely to increase crash risk.
Behavioral approaches to safety have provided robust positive results when applied in organizations seeking to reduce employee injuries due to at-risk behaviors. However, almost all prior behavioral safety research has been applied in work settings where employees can systematically observe the safe versus at-risk behavior of their coworkers. In contrast, commercial truck and bus drivers typically work alone in relative isolation and thus require alternative strategies. Until recently, the primary problem with implementing behavior-based approaches has been getting quality behavioral data on driving behaviors. New technologies are available that provide objective measures of driver behavior. These in-vehicle technologies are able to provide continuous measures on a wide variety of driving behaviors previously unavailable to fleet safety managers. Some driving behavior management systems (DBMSs) use in-vehicle video technology to record driver behavior. These recordings can be used by fleet safety managers to provide feedback on safe and at-risk driving behaviors.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration funded this project to provide an independent evaluation of a commercially available low-cost DBMS. Participating drivers from two carriers (identified as Carrier A and Carrier B) drove instrumented vehicles for 17 consecutive weeks while they made their normal, revenue-producing deliveries. During the 4-week baseline phase, the event recorder recorded safety-related events; however, the feedback light on the event recorder was disabled and safety managers did not have access to the recorded safety-related events to provide feedback to drivers. During the 13-week intervention phase, the feedback light on the event recorder was activated and safety managers had access to the recorded safety-related events (following a recommended coaching protocol with drivers when necessary). The primary analyses in the current report determined the safety benefits of a commercially available low cost DBMS. The results suggest the combination of onboard safety monitoring and behavioral coaching were responsible for the reduction in the mean rate of safety-related events/10,000 VMT for the two participating carrier companies.