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How Effective Are In-Cab Monitoring and Coaching Systems?

Susan Soccolich, a research associate with VTTI’s Division of Freight, Transit and Heavy Vehicle Safety, shared results from a study of commercial motor vehicles that analyzed safety-critical incidences using video and sensor data during the Fleet Safety Conference in California in November.

According to a study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, intervention was more impactful when truck drivers were coached on unsafe behavior or incidents within one week of the event.

The study takes a look at how drivers responded behaviorally to on-board monitoring and coaching after triggered events such as phone usage, drowsiness, or other distractions.

In order to gather baseline data, VTTI tracked drivers for one month prior to introducing the monitoring systems to get a sense of their natural driving behaviors.

According to the study, driver performance and safety increases in most cases when introducing on-board monitoring systems into the cabs.

Seven fleets, 116 vehicles, and 354 drivers were tracked over 3.8 million miles over a nine-month period, and here’s what they found:

  • Fleet A decreased high severity safety event rates by 64% during intervention of an on-board monitoring or coaching system.
  • Fleet H decreased high severity event rates by 37% during intervention.

At the end of the 9-month trial the monitoring systems were removed while VTTI continued to track the results for an additional two months, with interesting results. The fleets recorded lasting decreases in high-severity events even after the system was removed.

  • In the two-months following removal of the coaching system, Fleet A continued to decrease high severity event rates by 73%.
  • Fleet H decreased high severity event rates by 69% during withdrawal.

The majority (about 95%) of events recorded by the on-board monitoring system were low severity. Of those incidents that were safety-critical events, many were caused by distracted driving, and a majority of distracted driving incidents involved eating and drinking.