Eco-driving coaching can improve driver safety performance

S A99lg K5t R Cls2 Headshot
Updated Mar 29, 2023
Isaac dash camera
An Isaac dash camera captures a critical event when a car cuts off a Kriska truck in Canada.
Isaac Instruments

On a drive up the 401 in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, a Kriska Transportation driver’s dash camera recorded a white car crossing in front of his truck before slamming into the Jersey barrier. The recording was triggered by a hard-braking event, which prevented the truck from hitting the car.

Any time there is an accident that involves one of its trucks, whether its driver is at fault or not, Kriska always uses it as an opportunity to coach, Guy Broderick, safety and training supervisor at Kriska Holdings said in a recent Truckload Carriers Association webinar that discussed real-time coaching systems can help promote eco-driving techniques, resulting in improved safety. This driver, though not at fault, was provided some online training pertaining to awareness of his surroundings.

Kriska uses Isaac Instruments dash cams, and it also uses Isaac Coach, a real-time driver coaching platform that teaches drivers eco-driving, which uses energy-efficient driving techniques to reduce fuel consumption. Kriska took part in a recent Isaac study that spotlights the deep correlation between eco-driving and safety in the trucking industry.

“What are the benefits of an eco-driving style? The first of them is by having the eco-driving style, we can reduce our fuel costs. This is one of the main elements of the operational costs of commercial motor vehicle companies. The next point is we can increase the safety benefits for all of the fleet operators by reducing the risk of collisions… It can reduce the cost of the insurance companies and also increase the productivity for all of our drivers,” said Milad Delevary, a PhD student and research associate at Traffic Injury Research Foundation, which performed the study. “Our hypothesis is that if the drivers… modify their driving style, for sure we can have a positive impact, and the road safety will be improved for them.”

He said eco-driving includes following the speed limit and maintaining a steady speed; reducing hard braking and therefore having a smooth speed profile; using technology to anticipate traffic issues and route accordingly; using driver assistance systems like adaptive cruise control, for example, that can help reduce fuel consumption and operational costs by modifying driving style; and using monitoring technologies that can provide real-time feedback like Isaac Coach.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

While considering aerodynamics, truck model, load, road slope and wind factors to provide fair scoring of driver performance, Isaac Coach offers guidance on optimal throttle pressure and when to change gears or use cruise control to improve fuel consumption. But this eco-driving coaching also helps improve safety.

The study found that a 1% increase in the use of cruise control is associated with a 3% reduction in the odds of a hard-braking event, which can reduce the odds of having a collision. While hard braking was a necessary evil to save the driver from crashing into the car that cut him off in the example above, hard braking is also often the result of a driver not paying attention until it’s too late.

“I think people become very complacent in their way of doing things when they've been doing the same thing for 40 years. One driver told me, ‘There's no way a truck is going to teach me how to drive. I've been doing this for 40 years. It's a piece of equipment. It can't teach me.’ Well, just try it and it will,” Broderick said. “It is a little bit of a different thing to get drivers to adapt to having basically the truck telling them how to shift, how to drive, everything like that.”

Isaac Coach will show the word “Shift” in red on the display to tell the driver when it’s time to shift to the next gear to maintain low engine speed and high engine torque. The study found that driving in top gear with steady speed is associated with a 34% reduction in the odds of a stability control event.

Other findings in the study include a 1% increase in speeding is associated with a 4% increase in the odds of a stability control event; an increase in distance traveled of 6,214 miles is associated with a 55% increase in the odds of a stability control event; and an increase in the driver’s age is associated with a 9% reduction in the odds of a hard-braking event.

Angel Coker Jones is a senior editor of Commercial Carrier Journal, covering the technology, safety and business segments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and kayaking, horseback riding, foraging for medicinal plants and napping. She also enjoys traveling to new places to try local food, beer and wine. Reach her at [email protected].