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In-vehicle Performance Monitoring and Feedback

In-vehicle monitoring and feedback technology captures and reports safety-related information on driving performance. The technology is available through private vendors, car insurance companies, smart phone applications, and is built into some newer vehicles. Monitoring devices vary widely in terms of data captured and cost, and may be portable or hard-wired to the vehicle. Most units report global positioning system (GPS)-based travel history and approximate location of stops. Some units record more detailed information, such as maximum speed, distance traveled, hard-braking events, check engine codes, throttle position, engine speed, and timing advance. Emerging capabilities include accident avoidance or pedestrian detection technologies. Data are retrieved either manually by downloading the device’s stored information to a computer or through wireless technology.

In-vehicle monitoring can be used by parents, businesses, fleet owners, and insurance companies to monitor and provide feedback on driver performance to encourage safe driving practices. Immediate feedback, in the form of warnings or alarms, notify drivers of potentially unsafe driving. Notices via text or e-mail can alert those monitoring the vehicle to certain movements or when the vehicle leaves a specified location. The most common use of this technology has been to monitor teen drivers. However, the technology is becoming used more frequently in commercial operations to track trucking fleets and freight movement, monitor delivery times and driver productivity, and provide real-time updates and scheduled reporting via text or e-mail. It is also being used to record statistics such as idle time, cruise time, hard-braking and rapid speed change events, speed, and driver hours of service. Some insurance companies offer voluntary monitoring and potential reductions in insurance premiums to encourage safer driving among customers. Such use may be associated with “pay as you drive” insurance programs.

Related Transportation and Heath Tool Indicators

How can this strategy result in health benefits?

  • Improve safety
  • Reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities

How has this worked in practice?

Smartphone-based Teen Driver Support System

In response to the challenge of reducing motor vehicle fatalities involving teen drivers, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute at the University of Minnesota developed a Teen Driver Support System (TDSS). The system allows parents to monitor their teen's driving behavior and further educates teens about safe driving habits. By using the teen's smart phone, the TDSS provides real-time, contextual in-vehicle feedback to the teen about his or her driving behavior and helps parents monitor certain known risk factors. The system prohibits phone calls (except to 911) and texting while driving. Feedback to the teen includes warnings about speeding, excessive maneuvers (e.g., hard braking), and stop sign violations. Seat belt use and the presence of passengers are also monitored. A review of the TDSS, using 30 parent-teen pairs from Minnesota, revealed that teens and parents had favorable opinions about most of the TDSS functions, and that use of the technology could result in safer driving habits, even after the system is removed from the vehicle.

Where can I learn more?

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a guide for implementing an in-vehicle monitoring program to reduce work-related motor vehicle injuries. This example is a guide for the oil and gas extraction industry, in which the leading cause of fatalities is motor vehicle crashes.

NHTSA provides research on approaches to reducing teen driver crashes using advanced in-vehicle technology to monitor driver behavior.

Evidence base

Bordoff JE, Noel PJ. Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance: A Simple Way to Reduce Driving-Related Harms and Increase Equity. The Brookings Institution; 2008.

Carney C, McGehee DV, Lee JD, Reyes ML, Raby M. Using an event-triggered video intervention system to expand the supervised learning of newly licensed adolescent drivers. American Journal of Public Health 2010; 100 (6):1101–6.

Donath M, Creaser J, Gorjestani A, Manser M. Usability evaluation of a smart phone-based novice teen driver support system (TDSS). Minneapolis, MN: Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute, University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN DOT); 2011.

Farmer CM, Kirley BB, McCartt AT. Effects of in-vehicle monitoring on the driving behavior of teenagers. Journal of Safety Research 2010;41(1):39–45.

Lerner N, Jenness J, Singer J, Klauer S, Lee S, Donath M, Manser M, Ward N. An Exploration of Vehicle-Based Monitoring of Novice Teen Drivers: Final Report. Washington, DC: NHTSA, U.S. DOT. DOT HS 811 333; 2010.

Retzer K, Tate D, Hill R. Implementing an In-Vehicle Monitoring Program: A Guide for the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry. Presented at the OSHA Oil and Gas Safety Conference; 2012.

Simons-Morton BG, Bingham CR, Ouimet MC, Pradhan AK, Chen R, Barretto A, Shope JT. The Effect on Teenage Risky Driving of Feedback from a Safety Monitoring System: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Adolescent Health 2013; 53(1):21-26.

Soccolich S, Hickman JS. Potential Reduction in Large Truck and Bus Traffic Fatalities and Injuries using Lytx's DriveCam Program. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; 2014.