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Is the Status Quo Enough for Maintaining Safety on Our Roads?

Until recently, the status quo for maintaining safety on our roads was limited. Drivers and regulatory authorities have employed analog, digital and administrative solutions to prevent distracted driving. While these solutions have been a great first step forward, they have proven to be only partially effective due to their shortcomings.

The next generation of solutions is starting to emerge with the continued advancement of - you guessed it - artificial intelligence and other new mobile technologies. Let’s review the current status quo solutions that are in place now.

The Status Quo

Administrative Bans and Legal Actions

Bans and legal actions have been insufficient to create strong deterrents to distracted driver behavior. Fines and insurance rate increases for drunk driving are, on average, significantly higher than those for distracted driving violations. As a result, crashes caused by distracted driving continue to rise.

Apps That Block Smart Phone Use While in Motion

Mobile applications that intercept distracting incoming calls or the use of apps are easy to circumvent. Also, they prevent legitimate urgent access to the driver when needed. However, that’s not the only problem - distractions can come from many other sources.

UBI (Usage-Based Insurance)

Some insurers and fleets use UBI devices to analyze historical driver profiles and provide economic incentives to modify driver behavior and cultivate safe driving habits. The challenge is that UBI devices are great for reviewing what has happened in the past, create useful statistics to measure average driving behaviors, but fall short of evaluating risks in real time, and in conveying the information effectively to the driver, to encourage safer behaviors.

Telematics devices have been on the rise within the auto insurance industry, since they have been shown to be effective in reducing some risky behaviors, such as speeding or harsh braking. Similar to UBI devices, telematics devices collect data (including videos, in some cases) and feed it back to the fleet management software system for future use; yet, they cannot assist in avoiding a crash while it is in progress.

Vehicle dynamics data alone do not account for exceptional cases and may unfairly penalize alert drivers who apply hard braking and speeding to avoid collisions with distracted drivers.

In-Vehicle Sensors  

Many new vehicles are now equipped with sensors that issue warnings about imminent collisions just by measuring physical proximity or vehicular stability. However, those devices are not yet capable of identifying and addressing driver behavior that may lead to such situations.

The Ideal Solution – The Human Co-Driver

This is old-fashioned but may be the most effective way to solve the problem: have a co-driver next to you (but not your significant other or “Talkative Ted”) who:

1 - is aware of sudden driving risks

2 - can tell whether the driver is paying attention

3 - will warn the driver when needed

Let’s face it, two sets of eyes on the road are better than one. In fact, the limits of the human co-driver are exactly that, human. The co-drivers may get distracted themselves and will not necessarily know the next stop sign behind the turn nor the speed limits on every section of the road by heart.

However, for commercial fleets, this is not a cost-effective solution. With the advancements in mobile technology, several solutions are starting to be implemented by insurers and commercial fleets.

Artificial Intelligence

AI-powered systems can be used to track driver fatigue, inattention, and other risky behaviors. AI will eventually allow trucks to drive autonomously, although that is likely not going to take place for decades (except in local, confined areas or select long-haul routes), as the rollout is extraordinarily gradual and it will be necessary for local drivers in the continuing training of the system.

In-Cab Video

Cameras inside the cab are increasingly being used to evaluate driver behavior for post-trip analysis and coaching purposes, rather than as a punitive measure. Driver scorecards can be set up to help truckers understand how their performance can turn their fleet’s overall safety around for the better.

In many instances, in-cab video systems have been proven to increase driver safety, reduce litigation and insurance costs for fleets, and exonerate drivers from liability for crashes.

Hands-free Technology

Voice-activated digital assistants enable truck drivers to send and receive important information without taking their hands off the wheel to launch an application on a device, which is a deadly source of distraction for many truckers and drivers in general.

Conclusion

The solutions that are the status quo are useful but come up short in the end. In order to assist a driver in avoiding a crash, immediate action is required while the incident is in progress – not after the fact.

Solutions have emerged that are a unique combination of technologies that will monitor driver behavior in real-time as a human co-driver would. These solutions analyze the driver’s behavior and attention level against the dynamically changing environment to provide timely alerts, warnings and coaching tips to improve driver skills and habits. This creates greater awareness of the road conditions making the driver more aware of impairments, such as drunk or drowsy driving in real-time.

The best part is, they are more cost-effective than a human co-driver, pay attention 100% of the time, and won’t bring up subjects that your significant other or Talkative Ted may want to discuss which could be the most distracting of all!

Interested in learning more about our driver safety solution that uses co-driver expertise? Click on the link below to discover how dreyev can help you.

Learn More

Maggie Stys
Maggie Stys
Dr. Styś co-founded dreyev with CTO Roberto Sicconi in 2016 to solve the challenges of distracted driving faced by commercial fleet owners. 

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