Driving style can be one of the highest variable costs in a public transport operation. Fuel consumption between bus drivers – driving identical vehicles in the same fleet – can vary by 30%.
Drivers who accelerate harshly, drive too fast, or brake hard, cause more accidents, use more fuel, and cause more vehicle wear and tear. They also upset and can injure passengers and ultimately cost more money. With the shift to electric vehicles, harsh acceleration and braking will reduce regenerative braking effectiveness and significantly decrease range.
For this reason, driver behaviour monitoring and feedback systems have become popular with operators. These systems monitor speeding, braking, acceleration, cornering, and idle time, amongst others. This information provides live notifications to a driver via a console and potentially notifies a control centre operator of the event.
Data is also provided for analysis and remedial training and can rank drivers according to driving style. Operators can identify these events and overlay them on maps with incident media, such as photographs and video. This allows operators to retrain drivers with problematic driving styles to identify issues and provide guidance. It also allows operators to reward drivers who have optimal driving styles.
Smooth acceleration, maintaining optimal speeds, gradual braking, and minimising idling can provide significant cost savings for operators in fuel costs and reduced accidents while increasing passenger safety. Various studies have found that between 85% and 93% of motor vehicle accidents are due to poor driver behaviour.
Improving driving styles can significantly benefit operators, transport authorities, and passengers. For medium to large operators, the payback time for behaviour monitoring systems is short – as little as five months. This is because savings from reduced fuel consumption and lower accident rates cover implementation costs.
The benefits of driver behaviour monitoring include:
Reduced fuel consumption. Heavy acceleration significantly increases fuel consumption, but excess idling can also contribute as much as 15% of the total fuel bill for an operator. Idle time reduction, while promoting a smoother driving style, can significantly reduce fuel consumption. Electric vehicles may not have idle time issues, but their range is dependent on driving style, so smoother acceleration and deceleration highly influence the day’s operations.
Reduced accident repairs. Even minor accidents and minimal damage can remove a vehicle from operations for a week or more. Repair costs and vehicle unavailability impacts can add up quickly. Better driving can reduce accidents and help keep your fleet on the road.
Improved passenger safety. Even small jolts or unexpected braking events can result in serious injuries – especially for adolescents (who are the least likely to hold on) and the elderly. By improving driving styles, passenger safety can significantly improve.
When assessing driver behaviour technology, the following should be considered:
1. Do you want to use behaviour monitoring within a driver training program?
Leading driver behaviour monitoring systems rank drivers based on their driving style; they also identify areas of improvement relative to their peer group. The best implementations use these rankings as part of an incentive and training program, rewarding top drivers and motivating lower-ranked drivers to improve their driving style. When implementing these schemes, it is essential to identify a program champion and ensure that drivers, management, human resources, finance, and unions agree on its functions. With these elements in place, most programs are successfully implemented.
2. Do you need live behaviour monitoring, or after the fact monitoring?
Live monitoring alerts the driver and control centre of issues immediately. They are very good at identifying important matters like speeding and harsh braking and addressing them immediately. However, live monitoring is not as effective as after the fact monitoring systems to promote long-term, sustainable driving. After the fact monitoring systems are more granular and provide extensive driver behaviour tracking with peer comparisons. They also suggest recommendations for individual improvements.
3. Do you need a reporting and mapping feature?
The most advanced driver behaviour systems have reporting and GIS mapping features that allow you to visualise and detect incident clusters or events like harsh braking. This will enable operators to identify where drivers need to be aware of hazards to modify their behaviour. You can use an Automatic Vehicle Location Control (AVLC) system to remind drivers of these issues, which can be geo triggered before reaching a known problem area.
4. Do you want to use your driver behaviour system as a training tool?
Driver behaviour systems can be used as training and route familiarisation tools. They can incorporate videos and photos of routes and intersections overlaid on GIS maps. This allows drivers to familiarise themselves with the route and the hazards before driving it.
5. Does it detect incidents and cluster them, so problem areas can be identified?
By clustering incidents together, a good tool will detect areas where incidents occur and inform drivers of hazards in the area. It also gives operators evidence of problems at a particular location when engaging with transport or law enforcement authorities to request changes to street layouts or a particular law enforcement problem.
6. Are you looking to make fuel savings based on improved driver performance?
Reducing unnecessary idling can be a significant cost-saving identified from driver behaviour monitoring. Improved driving styles with smoother accelerations and decelerations can significantly reduce fuel consumption and increase the range of electric vehicles. This can lead to substantial cost savings over time.
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Bus, Trams/Light Rail, Ferry
Intelligent Transport Systems
Industry Solutions Manager, ITS