Recently, we hosted a webinar featuring Matt Camden from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) on improving fleet safety with driver behavior monitoring (DBM). In this three part blog series, we wanted to give an overview of the topics discussed and some key takeaways you can bring back to your team for further discussion.
In the webinar, Matt dove deep into three major themes: 1) What are risky driving behaviors? 2) Do driver monitoring systems improve safety? 3) How to succeed with a driver monitoring system
In part one, we discussed identifying risky driving behaviors.
In part two, we will dig into how driver monitoring systems improve safety.
The concept of monitoring drivers isn’t new. In any job, it’s natural for a boss to want to monitor an employee’s performance on-the-job. When you’re looking over your driver’s shoulder, the big issue is that they know you’re watching. So, typically you will see a heightened level of performance than when the employee knows you aren’t looking.
One major benefit of driver monitoring systems is that they provide a continuous, objective measure of behavior. The monitoring systems are constantly evaluating a drivers’ performance, so if the driver does have poor habits, they will eventually show their true colors.
In addition, continuous driver monitoring is key during trips since distracted behavior can have major consequences in just seconds. On average, distracted driving takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds which is essentially equivalent to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded at 55 mph. This small amount of time leaves a lot of room for error.
That said, you’re likely wondering, well then how effective are driving monitoring systems at actually monitoring?
Driving monitoring systems, specifically telematics, have been cited to reduce the number of accidents by 30 percent.
These systems are even more effective when coupled with positive coaching sessions.
In 2010, VTTI conducted a study where they installed driver monitoring systems in two heavy vehicle fleets, each with 100 drivers. Let’s call these fleets Carrier A and Carrier B.
During coaching sessions, Carrier A reviewed drivers’ videos and clearly identified the root cause of poor behavior while remaining positive. Carrier A focused on building trust with their drivers, getting their buy-in and fact-finding rather than fault-finding when reviewing poor driving events.
On the other hand, Carrier B didn’t follow good coaching practices. Management was negative overall, unclear in review sessions as to the root cause of poor behavior and didn’t provide suggestions to prevent future occurrences.
As a result, at the end of the 4 month study, the rate of severe safety related events per 10,000 miles for the fleets fell by 75 percent with coaching (Carrier A) but rose by 40 percent without coaching (Carrier B).
This study shows that driver monitoring systems can positively affect behavior. It is not an increased attention to safety, training or the presence of an event recorder that improves safety, but rather a combination of driver monitoring systems and sufficient coaching.