Driver Management relied heavily on physical observation or basic sensor technologies. However, these methods were often inadequate to assess accurately the driver’s behaviour and to provide timely feedback. The emergence of AI-powered systems has transformed this landscape by enabling the analysis of a wide array of parameters, from facial expressions and eye movements to steering patterns and vehicle dynamics, as well as real-time monitoring of vehicles on the road.
Benefits of AI-powered driver management: Let us take the example of truck drivers who spend long hours on the road, mostly engaged in solo-driving, having to alternate between interstate highways and city roads. They have the pressure to meet delivery deadlines. This results in either increasing speed or driving hours. The chances of getting distracted are very high. According to the latest ‘Road Accidents in India’ report by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), road accidents increased by 11.9% from 2018 and the National Highways accounted for 33% of all road accidents in 2022 — which meant more than 61,000 deaths. The report placed ‘over-speeding’ as the main cause of road deaths in 2022, about 75.2%.
However, with the assistance of AI-powered Driver Management systems, a “speeding alert” from the IoT device in the driver cabin can alert the drivers when they exceed speed limits. The AI dashcams can alert the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road further contributing to driver safety.
The cameras can also detect when the driver is distracted, whether texting or talking on the cell phones while driving — and trigger relevant alerts to the driver.
Another grave danger that long-distance driving brings about is drowsiness — often subtle but dangerous if left unchecked. The cameras along with the AI-powered processing units of the Driver Management devices installed in the cabin capture various facial and eye indicators to call out fatigue, and/or drowsiness in a driver, encouraging him/her to take a pit-stop or a break.
Automating driver coaching
When building a driver safety program, it’s essential to identify the key elements necessary to enhance a company’s safety culture effectively. Here are some points for consideration:
Determine the data needed: Today’s AI dashcams can capture distracted driving and high-risk driving events, providing your fleet with crucial evidence when faced with claims. Ensure that the technology you explore can capture these events clearly and accurately. It’s equally vital to choose systems that can organize captured data by alert type and allow you to leverage this information to your advantage.
Set clear goals: Regularly communicate your company’s safety objectives. Having a driver coaching system that enables you to establish and track your fleet’s safety goals, whether related to speed limit compliance or reducing hard braking, fosters a healthy work culture. Working together as a team to achieve shared goals enhances the effectiveness of your coaching efforts.
Promote AI systems: Drivers may initially be reluctant to embrace an AI-powered coaching system. However, when you demonstrate that the captured data can not only clear them of false claims but also showcase their improved safe driving skills, they will see the system as a valuable tool. Automated coaching doesn’t have to be limited to post-event analysis. Reliable dashcams can alert drivers in real-time about potential risky driving behaviour, preventing accidents before they occur.
Positive coaching: While it’s crucial to address risky driving habits, it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your interactions with drivers. Providing positive feedback alongside corrective guidance offers solution-based constructive criticism. Recognizing and rewarding safe driving encourages drivers to consistently exhibit responsible behavior. Through virtual driver coaching, fleet managers can share videos for drivers to review with attached comments, ensuring clear and concise communication.
Institute an incentive program: Rewarding safe driving behaviours is essential for cultivating a positive work culture. Many companies implement incentive programs, such as safety bonuses for top-performing drivers or recognition in company-wide publications. Fostering healthy competition among drivers through monthly or periodic safe driver awards encourages a drive for success.
AI-powered Driver Management systems represent a significant leap forward in road safety technology. By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, these systems automate coaching and provide invaluable insights into driver behaviour. Embracing this innovative technology is not just a step towards a safer road environment, but also a testament to our commitment to the well-being of drivers and passengers alike.
(Disclaimer: Durgadutt Nedungadi is SVP- India and International Business, Netradyne. Views are personal.)