Ever increasing vehicle traffic means ever increasing risk

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With over 1.25 billion vehicles on the world’s roads in 2014 and an estimated 2 billion expected by 2035, safety and management in this sector has become paramount. While most vehicles using the world’s roads are cars, one quarter of these are commercial vehicles.

Data for the USA from the NHTSA, shows that in 2014, 55.4% of traffic accidents involved cars while 38.7% were light trucks and around 100 people were killed in road accidents every single day. Statistically, it follows that many road users were driving as part of their job at the time. It is not only the devastating cost to human life but also the related injuries that significantly impact economies, leading to worldwide losses. Estimates currently suggesting that road traffic injuries cost countries between 3 and 5% of their GNP annually while the effects on individual businesses can be catastrophic. (World Health Organisation, WHO)

An avoidable problem

The single most startling and shocking fact about these figures is that these deaths and injuries could have been prevented. Key risk factors which may result in a road traffic accident include speed, alcohol consumption by drivers, refusal to wear seatbelts and distracted driving. National laws throughout the world address these infringements and though penalties may vary, licence suspension, stiff fines and incarceration are the norm. Nonetheless, despite the consequences, these laws continue to be routinely ignored with disastrous results.

Speeding-related accidents continue to be a serious problem in the USA with most drivers admitting to frequent periods of driving above the legal speed limit. There has been no decline in the numbers of fatalities in speed induced accidents over the past decade and alcohol abuse amongst drivers persists, despite stringent regulation, with even a very low level of alcohol in the blood doubling your chances of having an accident – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

As if the picture were not bleak enough, the advent of smartphones and other interactive mobile devices continues to exacerbate traffic related accidents, despite numerous campaigns aimed at heightening awareness and illustrating, often graphically, the consequences of texting and other device driven distractions while driving.

In their Annual Wireless Data Survey in 2014, the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) showed that nearly 170 billion text messages were being sent in the USA alone, every month and a frightening statistic from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) in 2011 demonstrated that 660,000 people were using their phone whilst driving, at any given daylight moment across the USA. This figure has remained constant ever since and now at least 80% of drivers in the US are estimated to own a smartphone. The evolving interactive environment that cell phones offer mean that it is not just the humble phone call that keeps drivers from paying attention to the road but also the need to follow social media, post updates, consult the internet and keep up with email. Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18% of injury crashes and 16% of all police reported crashes in 2014 in the USA were reported as distraction affected crashes. (www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811719.pdf , www.multivu.com/players/English/7292854-state-farm-distracted-driving-survey-cellphone-use)

Added to the emotional toll in human lives and injury are the economic costs. In a time where businesses must strive to remain viable, additional costs through damage, injury and loss of workplace productivity are hard to bear. The NHTSA survey on the economic impact of crashes shows a significant burden on the workplace as a result of vehicle accidents. In addition to financial concerns, there are the worries that business reputation and image rests in the hands of fleet and commercial drivers whilst they are behind the wheel. Driving misdemeanors reflect badly on the employer and it is not difficult to see how any media coverage of such infractions could have far-reaching and long lasting negative consequences for any company.

Fleet operators responsible for safety

Bus and transport drivers often work alone at all hours and the nature of their work means they are routinely in contact with large numbers of people. They may find themselves being threatened or abused by members of the public whilst working. Surveys of behavior towards bus drivers shows that they suffer ill-treatment at the hands of their passengers on a relatively frequent basis.

The outlook for taxi drivers is even more concerning with a survey by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the USA claiming that taxi drivers are over 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job than any other workers. (www.osha.gov) Anecdotally, taxi drivers are named as one of the worst types of drivers on the road the world over, which, fair or not, puts them at additional risk from road rage incidents as well.

So for companies that employ drivers and manage fleets of vehicles of any type, there is a double responsibility. There is the one to the rest of society, one which confers on them the responsibility to make sure that their drivers are accountable and law abiding road users but also the commitment they must make to ensure that their drivers work in as safe an environment as possible. Whereas subway train systems in various cities had the famed Guardian Angels to avert violence and protect citizens during the 80s and 90s, modern technology has provided us with a guardian angel of a different type.

M2M data sim enters into safety through technology

Enter idrive. From their base in California and Bucharest, this innovative company, who champion the virtues of fleet monitoring, are now extending their services around the world. They have developed an all-encompassing video surveillance system, which not only monitors events within the vehicle but also happenings on the road ahead.

Accidents are expensive, “The average cost of a non-fatal crash on the job is $76,31 according to NHTSA figures”, explains Sean O´Neil, CEO of the company, “The use of a video monitoring device reduces the number of accidents by 50% or more, so the advantages are an immediate reduction in the frequency of collisions and a better driving style. Not only will the presence of the devices elicit greater concentration but their footage can be used to train other drivers adding to their skill and value.”

The idrive X2 video recorder is a dual event video recorder which records 2 HD videos simultaneously. Fitted with ultra-wide lenses, this small handy camera can capture events in front of and to the rear of the vehicle, even in the dark and with accompanying audio. There is an integrated panic button, allowing the driver to record emergency events and also a facility for driver recognition. (www.idriveglobal.com)

idrive image and example

Should an accident occur, involving the vehicle in which the camera is situated, it will record and save events around the moment of the incident. Sensors incorporated in the device can detect hard braking and acceleration, aggressive driving, swerving, speeding and open doors. Any untoward occurrence will trigger the device to save the recording immediately before and after the triggered event. This will provide a clear picture of the moments surrounding the happening.

An additional 3G module can be combined with the X2 to provide live visual telematics. The X2 will then feed live data on GPS location, speed and other driving statistics back to the control center from where they can be viewed in real time.

Constant contact is essential to provide continued access to the vehicle’s video recorder and to ensure smooth operation of the data chain. PodsystemM2M were able to deliver a SIM card which was exactly what idrive were looking for to complete their service. “We chose Podsystem as our provider because of the ease of use and competitive pricing”, explains Kelli Cosio of idrive Global. The data SIM card offers access to multiple networks globally on one flat rate. In addition, Podsystem has developed an application which allows the SIM card to change from one International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) to another automatically should the card lose its signal due to a technical difficulty on one of the networks, thus avoiding any failure in the connectivity of the device.

M2M Data SIM solution gives excellent global coverage

However numerous, the video cameras don’t just serve to record events, when combined with the 3G module, they provide a real time “look-in” to the vehicle, meaning that our clients can monitor and observe their entire fleet at any one time. At the click of a button, live images from inside any selected vehicle can be seen from the office computer. Indeed, data gathered by the idrive Base Station can be synced using the idrive Global Center to any mobile device as well so that managers can keep track of their fleet from any location.

The idrive vehicle monitoring system can be deployed anywhere in the world, facilitated by the unique connectivity solution provided by PodsystemM2M. Kelli adds, “Working with Podsystem allows us to have a SIM solution providing us with excellent global coverage for all of our customers worldwide.” Another important feature is the fact that the PodsystemM2M data SIM cards can be configured remotely Over the Air (OTA). When devices are installed in busy, continually moving vehicles, it is important that changes can be made without having to interrupt the workflow of the fleet.

idrive route plotting map

The GPS facility comes with a route plotting and ring-fence option which means that geographical limits beyond which vehicles should not venture can be established and alerts will be sent if a vehicle deviates from its intended route. Equally, if vehicles need to pass through areas where video recording is forbidden, around military installations or places of worship for example, the GeoExclude feature can be configured to cease video capture during the time the vehicle is in one of these set locations.

Real time surveillance via Podsystem M2M data SIM

Despite the sophistication of the video system, its efficacy depends on the reliability of the network. As devices will be mobile and can be located in remote places, constant contact is essential to smooth operation of the data chain. Relying on PodsystemM2M data SIM cards to deliver data continually means that the idrive Control Center platform permits real time surveillance of the vehicle and evaluation of how efficiently the vehicle and its operator are working. “90.3% of crashes in the USA are due to human error” adds Sean, “monitoring a driver means unsafe habits can be corrected before an incident occurs.”

“Safety through technology” is idrive’s byword and a concept they take very seriously. Sean O’Neil has tried to provide a comprehensive service matching his technology with capable support. In the event that a company feels it cannot dedicate the required time or skill to its fleet monitoring, idrive offers an in-house data analysis service for customers. This optional extra relieves managers of the task, while ensuring that the data that their fleet is generating is being professionally monitored on their behalf. Idrive, in turn, knows that they can rely on PodsystemM2M in the connectivity arena. Customer service is paramount at Podsystem, time is taken to understand the specific needs of each client, cooperating to find the best way to deliver an integrated solution. Technical assistance is provided indefinitely. “We have received excellent service and support”, declares Kelli, “Thank you Podsystem!”

Sean O’Neil sums up the idrive philosophy, “The secret is that it actually saves our clients millions through the lower accident rates, out of service costs, fuel reduction and reductions in fuel costs”, he explains, “All of the features now possible, combined with the increased safety of the public should be enough to convince any operator.”

Intelligent cost effective reliable M2M connectivity

Better driving equates to cost reduction. “When a driver pays more attention to the rules of the road, there are many benefits ”, says Sean O’Neil, “Lower speeds combined with slower starts translate into a 20% decrease in fuel costs. Lower speeds and slower stops contribute to longer life in tires, brake pads and many other vehicle components.” Route optimization is another important step in reducing fuel consumption and this doesn’t only benefit businesses. Sean points out: “In the current climate, being not only financially frugal but environmentally friendly is a huge plus. This, in addition to ensuring driver and passenger safety and reducing at-fault accident rates, will significantly increase customer service and improve your company’s image and reputation.”

From their beginnings in California, idrive Global has escalated its operations to reach out to international customers, helping them to realize safety through technology. Their association with PodsystemM2M means that they can confidently supply a sophisticated service integrated via reliable, intelligent and continuous connectivity, wherever in the world that may be.

The scope of the PodsystemM2M connectivity solution is boundless, it provides reliable, multi network access at one flat rate and can be configured remotely to conform to your exact requirements, setting you free from the constraints of a single network provider, expanding possibilities and putting the power in your hands.