A number of studies have shown the beneficial value of telematics on both, safety and business. For instance, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) issued a policy paper that highlights a wide range of benefits of safety telematics, amongst others:

  • Relatively inexpensive and continuous measurement of driving behaviour and vehicle use, which is otherwise difficult to observe
  • More accurate and objective data about driving in contrast to responses to self-reported questionnaires or the short (one hour) snapshot pictures gained from driving tests and assessments
  • A tool for employers to monitor and assess their staff who drive for work, improve safety, reduce crash rates and operational costs, meet their legal obligations and reduce the risk of prosecution or civil action
  • A way to help young, novice drivers, parents and licensing authorities to monitor and improve the driving of newly licensed drivers
  • A method for insurance companies to differentiate between drivers based on their risk, rather than just by gender or age, and to tailor their insurance premiums accordingly
  • A powerful research tool to enable the collection of large amounts of real-life data, natural driving behaviour and the effectiveness of safety interventions on that behaviour
  • A tool to identify further training and guidance needs
  • Data to help highway authorities to identify problem locations on their road network

Professional/At-work drivers

Safety telematics are used by an increasing number of employers, perhaps mostly in vans, busses and HGVs, but also in cars. Employers can use the resulting data to identify management tools to reduce risk and improve efficiency by rewarding good driving behaviour and providing driver training.

Several studies show that in-vehicle monitoring help employers and at-work drivers to reduce their accident rates when driving for work. Some studies have found that accident rates for vehicles fitted with a safety telematic device reduced accidents between 20% and 38% and the rate of specific unsafe driving behaviours was reduced by up to 82%. Fuel consumption was reportedly lowered between 5 and 15 % on a permanent basis, maintenance costs are reduced about 20%.

Surveys of commercial truck and bus safety management concluded that safety telematic technology was underused given its safety potential. Most important for management was to ensure that the technology is not used just to focus on negative assessments and punitive actions, but to reinforce safe driving manners.

Trials in the US with safety telematic devices fitted into ambulances found a dramatic and sustained improvement in driver performance, without any increase in response times. Savings in vehicle maintenance costs alone more than paid for the technical equipment, without taking into account other cost savings, such as fewer accidents and decreased fuel consumption.

Novice drivers

Various studies strongly suggest that the use of safety telematics can significantly reduce risky behaviour, especially among the most risk-prone young drivers. Attitudinal change studies have found that parents want to monitor their children´s driving during their initial high risk driving period and anticipate that this technology could help them do so.

For example, a recent Finnish-Austrian research project showed that risky driving events among young and novice drivers could be significantly reduced by nearly 50% installing safety telematics and providing feedback. Comparably, a comprehensive study from Israel showed positive results among young drivers for their whole first year of solo driving when using safety telematics and feedback.

The bottom line

The most prominent issue that emerges from the research is the importance of feedback for the driving behaviour which is monitored by technology. Much of the research shows that driving behaviour improves once the driver and/or a third party begin to receive feedback.
The mechanism to alter driving behaviour for the better is based on the following principles:

  • Collection: safety telematics collect objective safety-relevant driving data
  • Norms: data put in perspective according pre-defined norms and limits
  • Feedback: driving performance fed back to driver
  • Consequence: reinforcing safe and weakening unsafe behaviour
  • Maintenance: keeping up the feedback loop

These five principles are pre-requisites to establish and maintain a feedback loop aiming at safety improvement.

As regards the consequence principle, it should be mentioned that “consequences” should not be understood having exclusively negative and punishing character. On the contrary, reinforcing good behaviour by incentivising safe driving is surely also one powerful key element of altering driving performance for the better or maintaining safe driving manners.

Relevant Literature

The following section provides a literature overview of studies dealing with the effects of telematics on driving behaviour. Note that the mentioned citations represent only a fraction of studies (thus no claim to be exhaustive):

“Road Safety and in-vehicle montoring technology – Policy Paper”, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Feb 2013

“The Contribution of Onboard Recording Systems to Road Safety and Accident Analysis”, Gerhard Lehman and Alan Cheale, Paper Number 98-S2-0-34, 1998

“An Optimal Solution for Enhancing Ambulance Safety: Implementing A Driver Performance Feedback and Monitoring Device in Ground Emergency Medical Service Vehicle”, Nadine R Levick and John Swanson, 49th Annual Proceedings, Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, Sept 12-14 2005

“Real World Application of an Aftermarket Driver Human Factors Real-Time Auditory Monitoring and Feedback Device: An Emergency Service Perspective”, Nadine Levick, Larry Wiersch and Michael E Nagel, 20th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV), Paper Number 07-0254, 2007

“In-Vehicle Data Recorders for Monitoring and Feedback on Drivers' Behaviour”, Tomer Toldeo, Oren Musicant and Tsippy Lotan, Science Direct, Transportation Research Part C 16, 2008

“Use of a Video Monitoring Approach to Reduce At-Risk Driving Behaviors in Commercial Vehicle Operations”, Hickman, J S, and Hanowski, Richard J, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Volume: 14, Issue 3, 2011

“Effective Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Management Techniques”, R Knipling, J Hickman and G Bergoffen, Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis 1, Transportation Research Board, 2003

“On-Board Safety Monitoring Systems for Driving: Review, Knowledge Gaps and Framework”, William J Horrey at al, Journal of Safety Research 43, 2012

“Effects of In-Vehicle Monitoring on the Driving Behaviour of Teenagers”, Charles M Farmer, Bevan B Kirley and Anne T McCartt, Journal of Safety Research 41, 2010

“Evaluating Changes in the Driving Behaviour of Young Drivers A Few Years After Licensure Using In-Vehicle Data Recorders”, Gila Albert et al, Proceedings of the Sixth International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment and Vehicle Design, 2011

“Effects of Pay-As-You-Drive Vehicle Insurance on Young Drivers' Speed Choice: Results of a Dutch Field Experiment”, J W Bolderdijk, J Knockaert, E M Steg and E T Verhoef, Accident Analysis and Prevention 43, 2011

“On-Board Safety Monitoring Systems for Driving: Review, Knowledge Gaps and Framework”, William J Horrey at al, Journal of Safety Research 43, 2012

“Evaluating the Benefits of an In-Vehicle Data Recorder to Young Driver´s Safety. The first year study”, Lotan,T., Toledo, T., Grimberg, E., Farah, H., Musicant, M., Omer, H., Shimshoni, Y. and Taubman, O. (2012), Or Yarok Report, April 2012.

“TRAFISAFE – Feedback for novice drivers”, Tarkiainen, M., Peltola, H., Koskinen, S. and Schirokoff, A. (2014), 10th ITS European Congress conference paper, Helsinki, Finland.