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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Onboard Monitoring System Field Operational Test


To determine whether an onboard monitoring suite reduces at-risk behavior among commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and improves driver safety performance. In addition, to collect more than 30 million miles of naturalistic large truck driving data to support future CMV safety research efforts.


An effective strategy in reducing the influence of crash risk factors is to obtain better, more targeted driver feedback. The OBMS used in this study provided drivers and their safety managers with cumulative feedback on risky behavior during real-time driving. In addition, it recorded (through snippets of video and other performance/kinematic measures) unsafe driving behaviors and provided real-time feedback to drivers. This was the final phase of a three-phase study to identify the importance of feedback on driver performance.


OBMS devices (provided by SmartDrive), were installed on approximately 200 vehicles across two commercial trucking fleets and two bus companies.


Using quantitative and qualitative data collected over an 18–24 month period via OBMS devices, researchers worked to answer the following research questions:
  • Does individual driving performance improve over time with OBMS feedback?
  • How does the OBMS feedback program improve safety?
  • How do the drivers’ opinions and attitudes toward the OBMS feedback program change over time?
  • Can the OBMS accurately distinguish “good” drivers from “at-risk” drivers?
  • If driving performance improves, does it remain improved over time?
  • What are the fleet safety managers’ opinions and attitudes about the OBMS?
  • What is the business case for implementing an OBMS feedback program?
  • What are the user differences between the electronic logging device that is integrated into the OBMS and the previous methods for recording hours-of-service data?


October 2009: Kick-off meeting
December 2009: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) review of data collection and experimental analysis plans
December 2010: Pilot test
June 2011: System deployment
May 2015: Data collection completed
July 2015: FMCSA review of draft final report
September 2015: Final report due


FY 2013: $848,000

Current Status

Final report published and available at:


Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
Last updated: Friday, January 24, 2014