How does technology really fit in our motoring society? At first glance, technology should make life and road safety better, but does it? Recently the internet witnessed a Tesla driver asleep at the wheel at 70+ mph utilizing auto-pilot mode. This is definitely not a good use of driver technology.
How about technology which automatically applies the brakes when an impact is imminent? Does that create another dependency among drivers to be even less vigilant or defensive when operating their vehicle? Additionally, autonomous vehicles have also seen their fair share of issues when drivers yield to the machine.
The successful blending of driver and technology depends on many factors including driver training and the technology is built into the vehicle driven. Age and experience also play into this blend. Younger drivers who learn to drive with newer technology may not have the training and experience as older drivers who were trained to be being solely responsible for the safe operation of a vehicle. Younger drivers may also be more dependent and trusting of technology as they are more accustomed to technology in general.
Are we willing to relinquish our control and safety to the “machine”?
Given the above, you have to question if receiving driver training once, when you get your license is enough? With the advent of vehicle automation and AI, shouldn’t we educate drivers on how to responsibly use these new marvels? Perhaps we should also consider recurrent driver training much like pilot requirements in both general and professional aviation. After all, driving a vehicle is the most repetitive and dangerous thing most of us ever do.
The bottom line is that technology works when the driver is still fully engaged and responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle and aware of the driving environment around them.
The interesting thing about technology & training is that it can have a big impact when humans know they are or will be accountable. Commercial fleet drivers typically have better driving behavior when they know they are accountable and that their driving behavior is monitored. Chalk that up to basic human behavior.
In a recent case study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), results found that when you combine behavior-based automated training, with drivers who are aware that their driving behavior is being monitored, you get a successful blend of technology and human behavior.
The VTTI study results are nothing short of incredible. The study encompassed a large municipal fleet of drivers with Predictive Coach software implemented over a 13-week pilot yielding a 73.93% reduction in speeding, 52.17% reduction in hard braking, 51.35% reduction in hard cornering and 37.50% reduction in rapid acceleration.
The VTTI study certainly is proof positive that the right blend of technology and humans work. The bigger picture for the transportation industry is that when technology is properly coupled with human behavior, the outcome positively affects the safety of our fleets, drivers and motorists on our roads.
Fleets and drivers must work WITH the right technology to positively impact safety. Additional details and information regarding the VTTI study and Predictive Coach can be found at this link https://stage4.etvsoftware.com/