How connected car data can improve driver behavior and increase fleet profitability

June 23rd, 2020

Improvements in driver behavior can reduce the costs of claims and accidents for a car fleet by 20-30%, this according to a study from McKinsey & Company. With the right sets of data, driver behavior can not only be measured and analyzed, but improved as well. This gives car makers and other fleet managers the opportunity to foster safer ways of driving, while at the same time creating a better economy for car owners, and more sustainable transportation.

Is changing driver behavior really necessary?

Drivers that exceed speed limits, drive through yellow lights and use cell phones in traffic are a common phenomenon. Several studies have shown that a majority of drivers do all of these things regularly, with one study finding that nearly one in five drivers even does all of the above simultaneously. Some studies have found that cell phone use likely causes even more traffic accidents and deaths than alcohol does.

Improving driver behavior can have a profound impact, and connected cars have an important role to play in this development. By measuring the driver behavior of individual (or groups of) drivers, particularly with regard to certain key safety parameters, car makers and fleet managers can inform them on how to drive more safely. Being able to merge that data with data about cell phone use, for example, paints an even fuller picture; one that can be used to reduce risks and encourage drivers to be more responsible.

Five key safety parameters when measuring driver behavior

WirelessCar is cooperating with Autoliv, world leader in Automotive safety, who through the solution Safety Score provides algorithms for Driving behavior. Speed, smooth, driver focus, and turns.

Data shows that speeding is a key factor in between one fourth and one third of all fatal traffic accidents.

Driver focus
The full extent of the consequences of cell phone use during driving is still a matter of debate, but few dispute its negative effects on traffic safety.

Smooth driving
Drivers prefer to travel comfortably and avoid rapid steering and hard accelerations or decelerations. By comparison, jerky driving has been associated with aggressive driver behavior, and an increased risk of accidents.

Intersections, and road crossings of any kind, give rise to complex traffic situations. Drivers are more likely to make mistakes when turning left, compared to turning right.

Utilization of existing safety mechanisms
Modern cars come with advanced safety technology, in order to prevent accidents from happening. Wearing a seatbelt or using the adaptive cruise control (ACC) indicates how well the driver adheres to the safety settings within the vehicle.

Safe driving reduces costs for fleet managers

Smooth, safe driving, with less acceleration and less heavy braking, reduces fuel consumption, the car's environmental impact, and the risk of accidents. For fleet managers, the greatest cost related to accidents is rarely the repair work itself (although that can certainly be expensive as well), but the fact that the car is taken off the street and cannot earn any revenue for several days or weeks. It is in the fleet manager's interest to have its cars out on the streets, to be shared and used as much as possible by the customers.

Connected car data benefits traffic safety and car makers alike

There are many factors that contribute to why someone does or does not drive safely. What is clear is that in spite of improved safety features in most cars, these features still do not contribute as much as one would hope in terms of reducing accidents and fatalities. Stricter regulations and self-driving cars will likely help improve traffic safety in the future. Even so, evaluating and improving driver behavior is a useful parallel method.

By studying driver behavior data from connected cars, car makers and fleet managers can evaluate and improve safety features that can prevent accidents, make drivers safer, and reduce costs over time. Fleets are becoming increasingly data-oriented, as software-based cars can now produce massive amounts of valuable information. Creating smart services based on this information will increase the value of the car and/or fleet service. This requires access to the right data, the right amount of data, and – not least – having the ability to interpret it correctly.

Using car data and smartphone data to improve driver behavior

Connected car data, combined with insights from smartphones, is already leading to new, useful features. WirelessCar recently started a collaboration with Autoliv, the world’s largest supplier of automotive safety products, which has resulted in a new solution for improving driver behavior.

Our solution merges data from the car’s telematics control unit (TCU) with smartphone sensor signals, generating a safety score for the driver. This score can go up or down, depending on how safe the driver's behavior is when he or she is using the car. The safety score system can also provide a certain degree of coaching. After a trip, it can give the driver advice about what he or she can do to drive even more safely in the future. Receiving constructive input is likely to help bolster a positive change in driver behavior.

Within the framework of the cooperation WirelessCar collect and process the vehicle data. Autoliv puts all their know-how about safety into the Safety score and needed algorithms as well as coaching of drivers. Crash detection is an example of an area to be developed.

For connected fleet managers, these kinds of driver scores and evaluations can be highly useful. Score intervals can be used to set different price levels according to driver behavior, thus encouraging safe driving by rewarding it with an improved score. Having fleet users who are likely to avoid risks – and drive in a smooth and responsible way – also makes car sharing easier, safer and more sustainable.

As with any other habit, changing driver behavior will take some time. With the help of connected car data however, we can get a whole new insight into this behavior, and work with the drivers in a direct and constructive way. WirelessCar has more than twenty years of experience of gathering and analyzing data from connected cars. In Autoliv, we have found a partner with 65+ years of automotive safety experience. Feel free to read more about our collaboration with Autoliv, and connected fleet management. Want to know more about how connected car data can benefit you as a car maker and/or fleet manager? Contact me at Peter Håkanson.


Elin Engkvist
Head of Internal Communications & Sustainability

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