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Rapid-fire pitch: SmartDrive’s argument for video analysis, coaching

Dan Jackson, director of sales for SmartDrive, pitches the company’s product to audience members at FreightWaves’ MarketWaves 18 event in Dallas in November 2018. ( Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves )

A single roadway incident could cost a fleet millions of dollars, even if its driver was not at fault. But how to prove that? Fleets are increasingly turning to video to help exonerate drivers of wrongdoing and finding that a side benefit is the coaching opportunity video provides to improve risky driving behaviors.

Dan Jackson, director of sales for SmartDrive Systems, told attendees at MarketWaves 18 in November that fleet owners are looking for three things:

  1. The ability to exonerate drivers when in accidents.

  2. An understanding of what is going on in the cab and the risk

  3. A way to cut driving distractions

Jackson made his pitch for SmartDrive’s video intelligence platform, noting the benefits it provides and also its potential to reduce in-cab hardware and monthly fees with the company’s new box platform.  

“One, we give you the ability to exonerate your driver with hard evidence,” Jackson told the attendees. “Two, we give you the understanding of what risk is happening with the fleet, and the third thing we do is help you with the data; provide you the data that is necessary to make educated decisions.”

The product was demonstrated during Demo Day, a series of seven-minute pitches from companies, at MarketWaves 18 in November.

More of the popular demos, which aren’t allowed to use PowerPoint slides and must show the product in action, will be featured at Transparency 19 in May.

SmartDrive developed its video platform to assist fleets in understanding driver behaviors. Jackson showed a video of a driver starting to fall asleep. The system recognized this risk and sounded an alert, refocusing the driver and avoiding a potential incident. The forward-facing video also monitors what happens on the road, helping fleets identify when their driver is at fault in an incident – and most importantly, when they are not at fault.

“We know that drivers have a lot of adversity out there on the road and it’s pretty critical to understand what is happening with those drivers,” Jackson noted. “What’s unique about this video is even though we’re seeing what’s happening in the ecosystem, we’re also gathering a great deal of data behind the scene.”

Speed, rpm, throttle and engine load are among the data points collected and then funneled to the fleet through a “response center.” That data helps generate three safety-related data analyses for fleets: safety score; percentage of events coached; and effectiveness of coaching.

“At SmartDrive we use all that data to generate analytics to help you make educated decisions on how to improve your fleet,” Jackson said.

For instance, the safety score is the percentage of risk rates per driving hour; a lower number is better. In his MarketWaves 18 demonstration, Jackson showed a fleet that had a safety score of 86 against a target score of 57.

Using the response center, a fleet manager is able to dig into what events are causing that higher safety score.

“[In the demonstration] we’re seeing three primary elements that are contributing to this safety score, and two of them happen to be unsafe driving and the other is unsafe backing,” Jackson said. “We know if we work on just these three elements, they compose about 60 percent of the risk this fleet is encompassing at this point.”

A safety manager can drill down in the platform to the individual driver level, and through the “skills” tab to see what behaviors each driver is exhibiting, as well as trends for that driver over the previous 12 weeks. Fleets can also rank drivers against the behaviors that are important for that fleet’s operations, and a driver can be compared to a fleetwide average.

As risky behaviors are identified, a fleet can begin the coaching process with a driver, showing them video of their incidents and documenting the session, all within the SmartDrive platform. Coaching sessions, in many cases, can be less than five minutes, Jackson said.

The final challenge Jackson addressed can be solved with the SmartDrive box. The box will offer a single integrated and aligned understanding of time, location, and driver and vehicle performance to third-party applications. Reporting will feed from the truck, through the control box, to SmartDrive or a data center that will route the data and information to the appropriate parties, whether that would be in the back office of the driver.

“There are multiple devices out there. What we’re doing through our box is to share all the information that is happening in a fleet with third-party applications… the ELD compliance, analytics – all of that can be shared,” Jackson said. “It’s going to help eliminate the hardware that’s in the vehicles and it’s also going to help eliminate the monthly cost that is associated with [that hardware].”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.