ServiceNet Research in Action March 2018

Research Opportunity for Traffic Psychology: How GeoTab GPS Units Encourage Safer Driving

ServiceNet provides more than just mental health and human services for individuals and families throughout Western Massachusetts. Its fleet of over 150 vehicles helps transport clients who would be otherwise unable to travel. Certain clients, such as those living with mental illness, developmental disability, autism, or brain injury, are especially vulnerable to the actions of others. For this reason, ServiceNet’s Quality, Research, and Compliance (QRC) team has worked hard to implement GeoTab GPS units throughout the vehicle fleet in order to maintain a dedication to driver safety.

GeoTab GPS units track driving data. Each month, ServiceNet downloads and analyzes this data for over one hundred vehicles. For easy comprehension, data is then translated into a detailed dashboard that can be viewed on qm.servicenet.org or as a CSV file from the GeoTab website https://www.geotab.com/.  Team leaders are then able to relay that information to their drivers. Regular communication creates awareness of easily overlooked driving habits in order to encourage safe driving.

March 2018 GraphHowever, the data generated by the fleet is also a great source of information for anyone studying Traffic Psychology. Factors such as location, speed, engine status, and idling, can be used to explore the relationship between psychological processes and the behavior of road users. As of now, ServiceNet’s primary focus is on reducing speeding incidents, but we hope to work with individuals who study Traffic Psychology in order to utilize most of the information gathered through GeoTab. Possible goals include developing and applying accident countermeasures, road safety enforcement, and the creation of rehabilitation programs.

In terms of our current progress with GeoTab, we have seen very encouraging data about speeding. Our primary measuring unit is a “speeding incident,” any event in which a car goes faster than 65 MPH. During such an event, the car will beep as a warning signal for the driver to slow down.

During the initial stages of GeoTab implementation, each GPS unit that was installed caused the total number of speeding incidents to rise. For example, ten cars could expect 100 monthly incidents, twenty cars could expect 250, and so forth. However, by October 2016, and once we had installed around 100 units, driving incidents reached a plateau that then dipped into a downward trend. Since then, we have seen the total number of speeding incidents drop by half, despite the fact that we continue to add new cars. In addition, the amount of time drivers spend speeding has dropped by 80% since a high in September 2016.

ServiceNet plans to refine its current driving feedback system in the future by providing program-specific “scorecards” to managers so they can better monitor their team’s driving behavior over time. As ServiceNet continues to improve driving culture, it hopes to work with researchers of Traffic Psychology to better understand the changes that take place within the vehicle fleet. We would also be interested in fueling research projects with applicable outcomes.

If you would like to work with ServiceNet’s QRC’s team please contact James Olchowski, QRC Project Manager (jolchowski@servicenet.org) for more information.