November 2013

SmartDrive enables operators to train drivers using ‘game film’

by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Based in San Diego, SmartDrive Systems provides commercial operators and transit agencies a safety solution focused on identifying specific areas of risk within a fleet.

The program focuses on driver performance and enables fleets to reduce collision frequency and ensure passengers are safe, by placing two cameras in the vehicle — one forward facing, one facing internally — that are then triggered by more than 120 different types of driving maneuvers, such as harsh braking events, swerving or unsafe lane changes. The cameras run for 15 seconds before and after they are triggered.  

“Essentially what we do after installing our cameras is take two to four weeks to evaluate driver performance without doing any coaching or review, which gives us a good baseline of where the areas of risk are on the road and where their fleet needs improvement,” said SmartDrive President Jason Palmer. “We then sit down with the management and walk through the areas we want to focus on and develop a plan for their fleet.”

Once a risky or fuel-inefficient driving maneuver is identified, it is captured and uploaded to SmartDrive’s service, typically via cellular, and becomes instantaneously available in the company’s service center.

There, a driver analyst reviews the video, scores it based on approximately 80 different observations and adds it to a driver’s profile on SmartDrive’s online portal so they can be ranked against their peers.

Owners and fleet managers can then log in to that online portal where they are presented with info about their drivers and what skills they may need to be trained on.

“From there, operators can schedule the driver for training or do face-to-face coaching where the driver is shown the video, which we refer to as game film,” explained Palmer. “Part of what makes the program very effective is that you are able to show the driver video of their performance, just like you would an athlete, so they are able to see what actually happened and use the experience to improve their driving skills.”

SmartDrive provides a driver scorecard that enables operators to show drivers where they rank against their peers and how they are improving. Palmer explained the gameification of the solution helps drivers be more self-motivated to improve their overall performance.

“Professional drivers generally want to be good at what they do,” he said. “By making them aware of the issues or skills that need improvement, it really helps to compliment the classroom or online training they receive, and ultimately, enables them to become the best drivers they can possibly be.”    

Palmer said that SmartDrive’s unique video review service helps to identify the root cause of important safety issues so they can be more effectively addressed through training. He added that fleets typically see anywhere from a 50% to 70% reduction in collision frequency and cost once the program is implemented.


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