The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Telematics Used to Reduce Commercial Vehicle Accidents

November 9, 2004

Acculeon, Inc., makers of wireless telematics systems used primarily for safety purposes, announced on November 4 the commercial availability of its Telemetry Information System (TIS) equipped with Vehicle Safety Manager (VSM) software. Designed to cost effectively track moving violations through real-time event monitoring, Acculeon's TIS system records speeding, tailgating, unsafe handling on curved road segments, rapid acceleration, sudden stops and frequent lane changes. The solution will be available to all sectors of the commercial vehicle marketplace. "When the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration said it wanted to reduce commercial vehicle accidents by 41 percent by 2008 we knew we could create a solution that would help," said Mahesh Chowdhary, chief technology officer and co-founder of Acculeon. "They named 21 unsafe driving behaviors that attributed to accidents. We chose to focus on what they considered to be 'serious moving violations'. We developed the VSM software package, bundled it with our Telemetry Information System and priced it at a point where fleets would find their return on investment no later than nine months from the date of purchase." The Acculeon system consists of three components: the in-vehicle TIS hardware (or black box), a communications infrastructure, either a cellular or a WiFi communications link (or both) and the web-based VSM analysis and report generation software. The TIS hardware captures and records driver events through the use of inertial sensors, a GPS receiver and an onboard geographical map database. A gyroscope tracks frequent lane changes at high speeds and turns that are taken too tightly. The built-in accelerometer tracks rapid acceleration, sudden stops and tailgating events. A proprietary compact onboard map database provides information about road geometry and speed limits of the road segment while the GPS receiver tracks the vehicle location where the event occurs. Acculeon's VSM software enables fleet operators to view and generate various reports on unsafe driving events. Fleet operators can generate graphical charts that can be customized to tie in directly with their business models. In addition, the software provides specific recommendations to help correct driver behavior problems and even suggests contacting insurers for premium discounts. Some of the basic reports that can be generated by Web-based VSM software include: total fleet performance during any specific period — grouped monthly, quarterly or annually; ranking of all drivers based on unsafe driving behaviors for any specific period, by class of vehicles or by specific event types; performance of an individual driver over a period of time and comparison with the rest of the fleet. Exceptional cases can be reported to a designated e-mail address, cell phone and/or pagers. Examples of VSM reports include:
  • Total Fleet Safety: A very high level report that only displays a break down of events generated in the entire fleet for a specified time period
  • Driver Ranking: Ranks the drivers in the fleet based on his/her score or number of unsafe driving events for a specified time period
  • Daily Exception: Lists the events generated by all the fleet drivers for a specified day
  • Individual Driver Safety Trend: Lists all the events generated by a selected driver for a specified time period. "We're finding the majority of fleets currently piloting the product are using it not only to identify which drivers need more training but they are using the system as a driver reward tool," stated Chowdhary. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study titled “Event Data Recorders — Summary of Findings by the NHTSA EDR Working Group”, there is an estimated 25 percent reduction in the number of accidents and unsafe driving events just by the deterrent effect of a driver knowing that his/her driving behavior is being monitored.
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