July 3, 2019 BY Evan Manciniin News, U.S. Vision Zero Cities, Webinars

Telematics as a Vision Zero Tool

Vision Zero’s focus to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries entails all parts of the roadway system prioritizing safety. Municipal fleets of vehicles are an important part of this equation, whether they’re used to shovel snow, respond to fires and emergencies or allow city employees to drive on official business. Measuring the operation of these fleets on city streets can provide useful information toward Vision Zero’s safety goals (as well as other areas such as fuel efficiency and congestion management). Telematics - technology that captures data wirelessly and in real-time - are increasingly being used in municipal fleets to enhance vehicle efficiency and guide driver behavior.

In our webinar, Telematics as a Vision Zero Tool, we learn more about telematics, how they are used in the industry and how a strong partnership between Geotab, a leading telematics company, and New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the Department of Transportation is advancing NYC’s Vision Zero goals.

Image: Geotab

An Overview of Telematics

Telematics refers to global positioning system (GPS) fleet management and vehicle tracking used to provide analysis on driver behavior and driving conditions. Geotab’s tool specifically provides information about vehicle maintenance, automates vehicle data reporting, monitors fuel usage and tracks safety factors with a three-pronged approach: driver scoring, driver coaching and collision detention and reconstruction.

NYC’s Usage of Telematics

NYC’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) uses telematics to encourage safe driver behavior in its large municipal fleet. Collision reporting data improves DCAS’ understanding of the occurrence of collisions, which then allows them to better modify driver safety training, evaluate roadway conditions and assess the efficacy of street improvements and projects for all road users. Telematics can also reduce costly lawsuits and processes that consume valuable municipal resources. [pullquote]In NYC, telematics have contributed to a reduction in fatalities -- two in 2018 compared to eight in 2014 as employees engage in safer driving behavior.[/pullquote]

NYC’s Department of Transportation (DOT) also uses Geotab’s telematics data to analyze the speed of the agency’s 35,000 fleet vehicles and the quality of pavement.

The spot speed study tool is designed to mimic radar data collection of free-flow vehicle speed at intersections and in stopped traffic. Geotab allows NYC DOT to select specific roadways to view and analyze metrics at a given time. This also allows DOT to track street redesign projects and to measure their before and after safety results. Cities can address the efficacy of Vision Zero street redesigns such as pedestrian plazas and bicycle lanes by monitoring traffic congestion and flow before and after implementation.

Using sensors in the vehicle, telematics can also provide information about rough surfaces, potholes, or cracks in the road way, which can be safety issues, especially for people biking. This data-driven method of studying road quality allows DOT to more efficiently target improvements.

Core to Vision Zero, telematics can be used to encourage municipal drivers to practice safe driving behavior. By monitoring factors such as swerving, harsh braking, aggressive driving, rapid acceleration and the speed of the vehicle compared to the posted road speed, fleet operators can provide driver training that targets specific, problematic behaviors.

In addition to this, telematics can also detect collisions. The technology uses embedded accelerometers, machine learning and analytics to send a report to fleet operators. This process is automatic and completed in real time, allowing the fleet operator to immediately dispatch an informed first responder. In some cases, telematics can even reconstruct collisions, sending visualizations to fleet operators. Collision reconstruction helps cities better understand the dangers of certain driving behaviors.

And, telematics can optimize "smart transportation." Aggregate data allows cities to closely monitor traffic flows, understand the effects of new projects and speed reduction programs, assess the efficiency of traffic signals, map air quality and highlight hazardous intersections -- all tools to better manage the city’s transportation systems overall.

As we learned in the examples shared by NYC and Geotab, telematics can support Vision Zero goals by offering quantitative data to promote a culture of safety in fleet management and support a more comprehensive approach to safety overall. Watch the one-hour webinar below.

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