AI has the power to transform how people work and drive positive change in entire industries. When it comes to the trucking industry, nothing is more important than improving road safety. But while AI technology is available, the trucking industry hasn’t yet fully embraced it compared to parallel industries.
Now is the time to make that change. Roads are getting more dangerous. Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows traffic deaths reached a 16-year high in 2021, with truck crash deaths jumping 13% year over year. In 2022, crashes were down only minimally, with the NHTSA’s recent estimates revealing nearly 43,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
As trucks have a significant presence on the nation’s highways, the industry has a responsibility and ability to leverage existing and new AI technologies to improve safety. There is especially an opportunity when it comes to distracted driving and unsafe driving behavior, which is 100% preventable. Distracted driving continues to make up a growing number of roadway fatalities and prompts urgent action to prevent further accidents.
The solutions are here now and AI has the opportunity to flip this dangerous trend — but not all AI is created equal.
“In 2023, there is no reason we should be having the crashes we have. Technology is to the point where education and visibility should be driving prevention,” said Gary Johnson, Head of Safety and Compliance Strategy at Motive.
Motive offers an all-in-one fleet management system, as well as an AI-powered dash cam that can detect and help correct distracted driving. In fact, Motive’s AI Dashcam successfully issued in-cab and dashboard alerts for six unsafe driving behaviors 86% of the time, compared to 21% and 32% for competitors, according to the results from a controlled test track study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).
The study’s results have far-reaching implications for safety managers and vehicle operators as they consider using AI to improve safety.
Effects of unreliable AI
While AI has the potential to prevent accidents, it can only deliver on its potential if it’s consistent and accurate — but not all solutions perform the same. AI should be able to detect, with repeat success, behavior like cellphone use, close following, rolling stops and all the unsafe driving behaviors that put operators at risk.
Unreliable AI can be dangerous. When there’s too much noise from in-cab alerts, drivers will start ignoring the alerts. When a managed service controls the data safety managers receive and dictates how fleet performance is measured, it can feel like someone else is running the show.
“It’s easy to get overwhelmed by false alerts and quickly lose trust in the product,” Johnson said.
With different AI solutions providing varied success rates, it’s important to choose trustworthy options that can accurately detect that unsafe driving behavior in real time. After all, crashes occur in the blink of an eye.
“Tens of thousands of pounds traveling at highway speeds mean the consequence of failure is catastrophic,” Johnson said.
Using trusted AI-powered in-cab cameras can decrease accidents by up to 65%, as was found when one company invested in the Motive AI Dashcam.
When it’s consistently right over long periods of time, like Motive’s solution, carriers have a high level of trust in the product, giving them the confidence they need to root out unsafe behaviors in more lasting ways.
Leveraging AI to prevent accidents
AI can be used in numerous use cases to help reduce the risk of crashes.
A distracted driving alert, of course, is one of the most obvious and vital ways. Paying attention to the road is necessary to stay safe, and AI dash cams can pick up when the driver is continuously looking down while driving above a certain speed limit. Distraction could be caused by drowsiness, cell phone use, smoking, eating or general inattentiveness. The camera can then alert the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road.
AI also provides an opportunity for real-time and long-term coaching. Through real-time detection of high-risk behaviors, drivers can modify behaviors the moment they occur, helping to prevent potential crashes.
There are also long-term benefits. As safety managers have visibility into their drivers’ behaviors, they can offer targeted coaching to drivers. Some solutions allow drivers to view their safety events in-app and self-coach. Managers can also recognize and reward their safest drivers and those consistently working to improve their driving records.
AI can even be used for preventative maintenance. Fleet managers predict when parts are likely to fail or when the vehicle is due for maintenance, enabling companies to avoid accidents related to vehicle breakdowns. Route optimization is another perk of AI, which can analyze traffic patterns, weather, road conditions and other historical accident data to suggest the safest and most efficient routes for drivers.
Perhaps most importantly, AI can also be used for advanced collision detection.
Safety managers need to quickly know when accidents occur so they can get on-site help for their drivers and kick off the insurance claims process. Real-time accident alerts with video help managers take immediate action, minimize loss and protect drivers. This also means they can forward footage of the incident to their employees, allowing them to provide on-the-spot exoneration and evidence in the case of litigation.
“Our advanced collision models detect the most severe incidents — such as rollovers and jackknifes — to the minor fender benders and object hits with over 99% accuracy and alert managers within 90 seconds. New telematics data like rollover protection, airbag deployment and other crash indicators also improve the accuracy of collision detection,” Johnson said.
Achieving zero harm and zero preventable accidents
The transportation industry is at a pivotal crossroads, where the adoption of dependable AI technology can pave the way for a safer future on the roads.
Motive’s goal is to achieve zero harm and zero preventable accidents, working tirelessly to improve its AI models and overall safety solutions until it and its customers reach that goal.
Motive is the only fully unified automated operations platform, combining fleet management, driver safety, spend management and equipment monitoring all in one place. It gives over 120,000 customers, across trucking, construction, oil and gas, and more, greater visibility and control of their operations by automating and simplifying workloads.
Read more about the VTTI study and how you can recreate the trial: gomotive.com/vtti.
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