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Among the challenges facing fleets amid the COVID-19 pandemic is how to provide meaningful feedback and training to drivers, as social distancing restrictions make it difficult to engage in the same ways trainers and managers have in the past. At the same time, truck drivers are more essential than ever, and ensuring they feel supported and safe on the road remains paramount. For fleets facing this dilemma, artificial intelligence-powered video telematics offers a potential solution.
AI-powered video telematics combine video data, computer vision technology, artificial intelligence and vehicle data to deliver insights that telematics alone cannot. While traditional telematics can provide fuel data, as well as information about erratic driving events and collisions, video telematics provides the critical context required to create long-term solutions that help improve safety, efficiency and productivity, and can put more power in drivers’ hands to help them be more proactive and accountable.
Video telematics has advanced significantly over the past several years — alerting drivers in real time to risky behaviors and helping managers maintain “eyes and ears” on the field while working away from the office and social distancing. Backed by both AI and machine vision, a form of AI that analyzes images and other visual data, sophisticated video telematics solutions can distinguish and detect risky driving behaviors in real time with 95% accuracy on average.
Machine vision and AI, or “MV+AI,” is constantly on the lookout for rolling stops, lane departures, following distances and critical distances — behaviors a training professional might be looking for while working with a new driver. Advanced MV+AI technologies can even detect when drivers are being inattentive.
Video telematics also can be a solution to uncover and address driving risks. In fact, Lytx has found that MV+AI-powered telematics have been able to identify 133% more instances of driver handheld device use, 397% more instances of drivers unbelted, and 332% more instances of unsafe following distances compared to earlier company solutions that use accelerometer data alone to spot risky behavior.
MV+AI-powered video telematics also can provide in-cab alerts to prompt inattentive or distracted drivers to refocus their attention to the road.
These alerts also are configurable and usually feature mute schemes to combat “alert fatigue,” which refers to drivers becoming desensitized to safety alerts in time and potentially ignoring or failing to respond to the alerts as a result. They help drivers recognize their own risky driving patterns and empower them to correct their behavior in real time. The goal is to eradicate an undesirable behavior the moment it occurs for the best possible outcomes.
Many companies, including FedEx Ground, Walmart and Waste Management are using various forms of AI-powered video telematics to train and support their employees.
Important during the age of social distancing, AI-powered video telematics can facilitate self- and remote driver coaching in an effort to limit person-to-person contact and continue giving drivers more accountability over their own improvement and safety.
With self-coaching, drivers are able to independently review video clips of their own performance on a mobile device or computer and leave notes for their coaches or managers to check, as needed. For remote coaching sessions, this same process occurs over the phone with a manager or coach, who reviews the driver at the same time on their own device and provides feedback.
With drivers empowered to self-correct, managers can redirect their time toward managing the increasingly complex logistics and safety protocols that have surfaced as a result of COVID-19.
As MV+AI-enabled technology solutions are deployed in public and private fleets, the performance and precision of AI-based systems continue to improve; more vehicles and devices capture more and more data. The applications are endless, but one important initial goal is to support, protect and empower the commercial drivers who keep us all moving forward.
Michael Phillippi currently serves as vice president of technology for Lytx, a leading global provider of video telematics, analytics, safety and productivity solutions for thousands of commercial and public sector fleets.
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