Following the GreenRoad to safety

Recently, after spending the last five years in research and development, a company that was founded in Israel entered Silicon Valley with venture capital and a team of seasoned managers recruited from within the United States. With a new name and new Web-based subscription service, the new company aims to help fleets improve driver safety and lower costs.

GreenRoad Technologies, with headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., is offering a unique product and service to all types of fleets that combines in-vehicle driver coaching with integrated web reporting of driver behavior and risk.

Its new product and service is the GreenRoad Safety Center. It relies on a sensor installed in a vehicle to collect information about driving behavior. The sensor detects 120 different driver maneuvers in five categories: speed, braking, acceleration, lane-handling and turning. During its years of research, GreenRoad Technologies developed advanced algorithms to convert raw motion, sensory data into meaningful information to identify high-risk maneuvers, behaviors and patterns, says Dan Steere, chief executive officer.

The in-vehicle coaching is done by using a simple display mounted on the dash or next to the steering column with three lights–green, yellow and red. Aggressive behavior, such as speeding or weaving between lanes, will turn the light red.

“The system in the vehicle is there, constantly awake and watching what the vehicle is doing as it is rolling,” Steere says.

The small device in the vehicle passes information to a Web server with a suite of Web-based driver performance management tools to view high-level reports on driving performance as well as exception-based reporting to the fleet manager. The applications accumulate profiles of individual driver behavior, Steere says.

“No human intervention is involved in the process,” he says.

Fleets can provide drivers with a summary of their driving behavior in a weekly e-mail, for example, for all five categories monitored by the Safety Center. Such reports indicate which areas of behavior drivers can improve by showing them how they rate compared to rest of fleet.

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Beginning in late 2006, T-Mobile’s maintenance service fleet in England, tested the GreenRoad Safety Center. An audit performed by an independent firm for a six-month period showed that T-Mobile reduced its accident cost by 23 percent. Using a color-coded risk index of red, yellow and green (in order of worst to best) the fleet went from 69 percent red drivers and 10 percent green drivers to 35 percent red and 38 percent green. In addition, fuel consumption from January to March 2007 dropped 2.8 percent, as a result of reducing aggressive driving behaviors.

Steere says the GreenRoad Safety Center is unique from other products in the market in that it can provide automated risk assessment and feedback to drivers based on the actual maneuvers they make.

“In the history of risk management, a lot of work has been done in training and incentive programs. The thing missing is the awareness at the time you are driving of the kind of behaviors that will lead to an accident.”

The algorithms used by GreenRoad Safety Center can be adjusted to fit the physics and driving style differences for each type of vehicle, from Class 1 to Class 8, Steere says.

Fleets can sign up for an all-inclusive subscription for a three-year basis for under $30 a month, per vehicle, Steere says.